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Five Poster Printing Rules You Can Ignore

Marketers and designers alike know that poster printing is a powerful way to promote a brand, highlight a cause and motivate action. With millions of posters in print since ancient times, it seems everyone has their own set of rules and conventions when it comes to poster printing. However, ignoring convention and breaking rules leads to an explosion in artistic creativity. With the right mix, you can create a compelling poster that captures attention precisely because it is different. Thus, you can ignore the following five poster printing rules.

1. Design to impress your client

Ever hit on a poster design concept and thought to yourself, “Oh boy, my client is going to be crazy for this?” That might be true, but you have to remember your job: to create a poster that motivates your clients’ customers, not your client himself. This is something seasoned designers deal with every day – the challenge is in demonstrating to your client why your poster design is perfect for their customers, even if your client isn’t thrilled about it.

Yes, you have to impress, but it is your client’s customers you need to worry about. Impressing your client is part of the equation, but you don’t want to put your name on a bad poster just to make money. If you and your client do not see eye to eye, suggest you do two versions and test them against one another to see which one the customers respond better to.

2. Your poster should be 1/3 text and 2/3 visuals

This “rule” of poster printing should be tossed out, because it stifles so much creativity. It might be a good rule of thumb for student designers who do not yet have a grasp of artistic license and how it relates to marketing, but for seasoned veterans there are no rules. White space is usually good, yes, but some highly successful posters have been full of text (and even nothing but text). Conversely, some of the most powerful posters could be deemed 9/10 visuals and 1/10 text. Design what will work and not to a formula.

3. Your poster should have a big headline

In many cases, a big poster headline will help; but not in all cases. Sometimes a large headline can distract from the poignancy of your visuals. Sometimes your visuals are your headline, and you don’t need any additional text at all. Again, design what will be eye-catching and simultaneously send the right message to the right audience. You want to compel action, whether it is a mindset or a purchase, and not ascribe to foolish rules.

4. Print glossy posters

Glossy posters look great, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t make it a rule that every poster has to be printed in gloss. Sometimes posters look better in matte, which as a more subdued-yet-rich and elegant sheen. This finish style looks great on film noir posters, bistro posters and other sophisticated poster applications.

5. Print standard size posters

First and foremost, there are no standard size posters – even 11-inch by 17-inch posters cannot be considered standard since different industries and applications use posters for different reasons. In many cases, bigger is better; but in some (especially when space is limited or viewers are up-close), smaller posters work better. Print posters anywhere between 11-inches by 17-inches and 27-inches by 39-inches, and you’re in good shape.

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