It takes both sides to build a bridge.

This quote jumped out at me recently as the best way to describe the creative work process between a poster designer and a client. The client approaches me with their project and then using our shared knowledge, experience and creativity, we go back and forth until both sides (but most importantly, the client) are happy with the final design.

Without a good understanding of this process, however, it can be difficult to communicate effectively to get the best results. With this in mind, I’d like to share my workflow for creating a poster – knowledge that will hopefully help you to get the most out of working with your designer.

 

Step One: Initial Discussion & Brief

The first thing that usually happens is an informal chat about the project. We discuss the ideas behind it, how the design will be used, any key messaging that may need to feature (e.g. highlighting a star name) and crucially, what they want the poster to communicate to an audience.

We’ll also discuss any possible reference material in terms of tone and mood and if there are any existing assets such as photo shoot images or logos that need to be used.

Sometimes I may have read a synopsis/script or seen a trailer before this meeting, but if not, I will invite the client to share these along with any of the other assets. The more knowledge I have of the project, the easier it is to do a great job.

We usually finish the meeting by determining a timeframe for the project and outlining the next steps.

Step Two: Moodboard

Next, I create a moodboard on a platform like Pinterest. This is an important stage for determining if we are both on the same page as words like ‘dark’ or ‘playful’ we may have used while chatting – can mean different things to different people.

I use images and designs from similar films but also from other sources like advertising, art and street photography. I encourage the client to add to the moodboard themselves – ideally making specific comments about what they like about each image (e.g. the typography, the lighting).

Depending on the project and how much information the client is able to submit going in, this stage is sometimes combined with the next stage.

Moodboard example (Pinterest)

Step Three: Concept Sketches

Once we are both happy, I usually create three very rough designs based on our discussions and the moodboard. If the budget is tight or the client is extremely sure of one particular design concept, I will sometimes only create one or two concepts – but this is not generally advisable as it closes down options at an early stage.

I present my designs together with existing examples to suggest what the final poster might look like. I find that this is an important step as non-designers often find it difficult to visualise the final design from just the concept sketch.

The client then gives me feedback and picks one of the concepts to develop into a refined design. They may completely focus on one or they may ask for elements from another to be incorporated (e.g. they like the imagery from one design but also the typography of another).

Sketch examples

Step Four: Feedback and Finishing

After I have shared a refined version of the design, the client will be able to give clear and detailed feedback. As part of a poster design package, I usually include 3 rounds of amends – so it is crucial for the client to think carefully about adjustments they would like made and group them together to send to me. Additional rounds of amends are usually at an additional cost, but most people don’t need more than 3.

Step Five: Delivery

Once the final design has been signed off, I will deliver all the necessary files to the client.

And that’s it! I’m lucky enough to have worked with a lot of repeat clients – and can say for certain that communication gets a little easier each time as we both learn each other’s methods and how to get the best out of one another.

If there’s a poster design project you’d like to discuss developing, feel free to drop me a line at adam@strelka.co.uk.

Wishing you design success!