7 tips to help get your creative graphic juices flowing

February 04, 2016

When it comes to creating and designing a graphic, although exciting and creatively stimulating, it is also a tough gig. You want to create some loud, vibrant and different, whilst still adhering to age old design rules that have proven to work over and over again.  However, you may need inspiration. You know what the graphic needs to say but you need to know how to say it. So what tricks can you borrow from some great graphic design?

Simplicity can say a thousand words moretrade show graphics

You will have heard the mantra uttered hundreds, if not thousands of times when it comes to design – keep it simple.

And yet one of the hardest things to do is simplicity without not only losing the message, but creating one. There are many ideas of how simplicity works like this fabulous example from 1969. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this poster was a poster campaign to advertise the Guggenheim Museum. Even those there are rules, the combination of white on yellow is a combination that many designers and academics will tell you to steer clear of and yet, it works so well here.

 Add tension to the surface

You will have seen many examples of this, mainly relating to advertising films but, adding features to the surface of the poster can also help create an ambience about the product. For example, adding in print, that the poster is tattered, burnt or splattered with paint is a way of evoking your story behind the product.

Manipulate scale for creative effect

Playing around with the rules or how something should ‘normally’ look is a great way of drawing attention to your poster. This poster magnifying a slice of juicy watermelon was used in a series of posters for a furniture company, Herman Miller. As part of the whole campaign, the company were hosting a summer picnic and thus, the posters revolved around this fun activity. From the 1970s, it is a great way to perhaps attract attention without dwarfing your message.


Using different colours letters and then overlapping them is something that has been done numerous times. It creates a sense of depth without the name being obscured. Designers take the almost transparent colours and overlap them. Creating secondary colours as done here in a poster campaign for the company Knoll Textiles. Even though the letters are all stacked on one another, you can make the name out.

Overwhelm the eye

There are many rules about colour combinations and how they should and should not be used. We have already seen in the first example that there are times when breaking the rules can create a fabulous affect. There are some great examples from the 1960s and 70s of psychedelic colours being used that created an overwhelming impression on the eye. In an effort to understand what was being advertised, people looked for the information.

As printing techniques and qualities continued to develop, the reproduction of colour improved immensely and so there are still many example of psychedelic and neon colours being used today. However, as a note of caution, make sure that the information people will seek is printed in a colour that is readable.

The eyes have it

There are some very interesting pieces of research that examines what we tend to be drawn to when it comes to posters and more importantly, what type of graphics work best. It has long been known, therefore, that images with human faces work well, and especially the use of eyes. There are kinds of ways to do this but this great poster from the mid-1990s was to advertise a play, ‘Nude, Nude, Totally Nude’. The rest of the face pales away leaving two larger, surprised eyes that immediately focus the attention on the poster.

In summary

There are many different ways to combine the rules of design – and those that we choose to break – to create an effective graphic campaign. Think clearly through a strategy and have it fit with your brand and you too could have an iconic poster that is talked about in years to come.

Guest Blogger:  James Trotter, Colour Graphics.  As a print company, Colou r Graphics has many years’ experience, seeing trends and fashions in print and design come and go. Offering both a print and design service, they are a company favoured by many businesses to help them create the perfect poster campaign for them.

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