Poster Series Process: Thread Art Show

illustration for one of the posters

About the Project

Our third project for Communication Design Fundamentals is an arts poster series. The series consists of three posters, each a different one that depicts an event that is part of the overall series. The posters have to be for some sort of festival, dance performance, art show etc. The poser must include, the name of the festival, the date, the time, how to purchase tickets, and a blurb about the day or festival.


From the start, I decided that I wanted to do a posters series on a fictional Oriental/Asian inspired arts festival. A lot of my favorite music pieces, films, etc are asian inspired. I chose to explore some common motifs that are used in Chinese and Japanese culture such as the red string of fate, koi, trees, waves, and more.

Digital Drafts

After my sketches, I moved into digital drafting. I decided to go with the drafts that included the corner text for the main festival and another column for the specific day (first sketches above). While I knew that I wanted to illustrate the art digitally, I started with rough paper sketches to get a quick visualization of what the posters might look like. I also explored this idea of a red string linking all the posters together, symbolizing a connection between each day.

I saw quickly that I liked the general composition of the poster, but I would need to work on color and grid. I also did not want all the posters to look too similar, so experimented with different types of positions below. I hand drew my illustrations on my iPad instead of vector tracing because I wanted to capture a more organic feel.

After my first interim crit with the following posters, I received positive feedback about the connecting string and the illustrations. There were many suggestions to adjust the grid, the colors, and hierarchy.

First, I tried to experiment with layering colors. There was a printing error that caused a few streaks of color onto my drafts that intrigued some people. I explored a more intention layering of color.

These posters seemed to lose the organic, traditional feel that I originally had with the tan and black colors. I thought perhaps a more unusual color scheme could remedy that.

Despite exploring man color configurations, it seemed like the colors were detracting from the traditional feeling and taking away from the excitement that was the red thread connecting the posters.

I went back and decided to explore more neutral or subtle color palettes instead.

While some of the prints looked like interesting color schemes on screen, when printing, they looked much different. I found the prints that were appealing to me and others the most, were those with high contrast in the images, mainly those with black illustrations. I also liked that the black illustrations looked like ink.

In the end, I resulted back to colors that were similar to my old drafts. I wanted the poster to resemble paper like colors and almost produce this older nostalgic feeling.


I honestly struggled with this project. I begun the project with a very strong idea and a lot of inspiration. I was ambitious with my ideas and ended up laboring over the colors rather than the grid and illustrations. In retrospect, I would go back and explore changing my illustration, changing the layout, refining my grid, and playing more with texture. I was able to learn a lot about experimenting with color and illustration and hope to improve my illustration skills. (The fish in the first poster is completely hand drawn while the others are loosely traced)




An Introduction to Design and Communication

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Julia Luo

Julia Luo

a designer in training based in SF/Bay Area |

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