Process: Love Poem Poster (Part 2)

Early Poster Mock Up

Early Poster Mock Up, 11 x 14

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the words and meaning behind this work in progress. Today I’m doing an examination of the design process in my Love Poem Poster. Above is an early test on an actual 11 x 14 inch drawing pad. There isn’t any fancy lettering and it is mostly a test to play with some color and see if I could get all the words to fit. They didn’t. After I did this I realized I left out a whole stanza (“Gets together to study, does not grouse. Says, ‘Hey buddy, this one’s on the house.'”), but I found a way to make it fit later. Sort of.

Here’s another look at the whole thing that I posted yesterday:

Love Poem Poster Rough DraftPart of the challenge for me is remembering that what I design on the screen is going to take on a very different look on paper. The big reason is that paper doesn’t glow, computer screens do. Even the black will be more muted when it is a tangible item.

Let’s get the ugly stuff out of the way and talk about what’s NOT working. It’s too busy. The words are too close together and it drives me nuts. There is a lot of variation in the sizes of words and the best way to make more space and the words less cluttered will be to decrease the size of the largest letters. This means mostly the first and last lines, but I do want “LOVE” to be the largest word in the top left. The other thing I’ll do is minimize some of the horizontal dividers. Most of those were improvised on the fly as a means of breaking up space and to my surprise the simple thin red lines that I added in Photoshop work better (though not perfectly) than any of the more detailed hand drawn dividers. Then there’s this:

Puts the toilet seat down bannerIn the first place, there are too many of they full length horizontal elements. It wouldn’t be too difficult to break more of them up. More glaring here, that lettering screams Comic Sans! This is a result of how I wrote these words. They were written with a basic all purpose Sharpie marker on whatever drawing paper I was using at the time. The bleed of the marker was enough that even after adjusting the levels in Photoshop the fringes remained and when I made the letters white with a black stroke, the round nib of the Sharpie gave that unforgiving Comic Sans appearance. The original text in shown along with some other original elements below.

Compilation of several image components before going into the computer

Compilation of several image components before going into the computer

Other writing instruments I’ve used so far were Faber Castell PITT pens, Micron Pigma pens, Sharpie pens, Prismacolor black marker/pens, and a generic set of pens I picked up at Michael’s. The Microns seem to be the best so far for this project.

Love Is PatientThe above section is a bit of good and a bit of bad. I quite like how the black box on the left turned out with the white writing. The dots could be straightened up a little bit. I like the idea of the small fence post illustration, but it needs to be better as do the words “mend fence posts.” In fact, I’ve already redrawn a new version since the comp was put together yesterday.

Quit Smoking Poster sectionThe “Quit Smoking” section is okay, but could use some improvements. I need to optimize the length of the cigarette. I also need to include a glowing ember and one end and it would be nice if I could get a little bit of smoke to intertwine with the section above without being intrusive. The word “and” could benefit from a small flag/banner maybe and the word “says” could be a little fancier.

Donates Blood sectionThe “Donates Blood” section is easily my favorite. It’s rare that something I created myself inspires me to do something else (like donate blood), but this does the trick (but someone will have to transport me because I will not be able to drive afterward). It’s fairly simply and when I was working on this section for the 18×24 version, I’d not yet conceived of using the medical cross and drops of blood in the text, but now it seems so obvious and perfect. If I do a larger version I may incorporate bandages and crutches with the word “injured” and a thermometer and IV with “sick”.

And what of the 18×24 version? Originally my aim was to a single color 18 x 24 poster and I was going to combine images with texts for each section. I haven’t decided exactly how I want to proceed with a larger version, especially given that I haven’t finished the text only smaller version. The one thing that keeps the possibility of the large version alive is this image:

Flying Saucer "Come In Peace" drawingIt’s not very often that I’m pleased with a drawing right off the bat, but I really like how this came together and I would hate to see it go unused. Instead of letterpress, now I’m considering doing a three or four color screen printed poster, possibly with a punk rock feel. One of my concerns about the concept of love is that it is largely marketed towards women. Love is cursive writing and flowers and pink hearts. I made a very conscious decision to avoid all those kinds of things in my designs and went to some lengths to “butch it up” so to speak with UFOs, ditch digging, drinking, and spiders.

One problem I’m encountering in both designs is designing in both the computer and at the drawing table. Taking smaller drawings and patching them together in the computer is quite tedious and it makes it difficult to work full size at the drawing table without cutting up originals to put on the scanner. It might be wise for me in the future to full size pencil drawings and trace smaller sections in ink onto vellum. Better lighting and a better digital camera might help as well.

So there you have it. Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of what is working and what isn’t? What would you like to see different in final versions of either size of this love poem?






5 thoughts on “Process: Love Poem Poster (Part 2)

  1. Heather

    Some lines I read out of order because it wasn’t clear if I was supposed to go across or down. Was that intentional? It usually happened when the words below took up the same amount of horizontal space, so it looked like a column, but I was in fact, supposed to be reading across all the way first. But then after that happened, I would get it wrong going the other way. Examples are after “Gets together to study…,” I’m going to…,” and “Forget…”

    I like the red dividing line that has the white lines going through it.

    I also hope you do the larger version. I like that one better.

    1. John Post author

      No, I really tried to put them in an order that would lead the reader to read them in the intended order. For the most part it should read left to right and top to bottom in each section. Maybe the trick is defining those sections better. Do you recall which lines you read out of order so that I can give more attention to those.

      I do plan to do a larger version as well and keep some aspects (like the spaceship) intact, but it will take on a very different look than the initial concept which was just one color.


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