(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)
If you are serious about promoting your act, then you really need to get some good professional posters created.
Most venues advertise their upcoming shows in order to attract people to the venue. For the most part, that advertisement is the only indication prospective audiences will have as to how good your show is going to be. There is no sound and no audio on poster advertisements, so the decision to come see your show will be usually be made purely on what potential customers see and read on your poster.
A well designed poster will make you appear professional and can attract you a very large audience, while a poor amateurish looking poster will make you appear, well, amateurish.
Even if you are a great entertainer and a top class professional act, if your poster doesn’t convey it you won’t be taken seriously. There’s a famous saying that goes “…a picture is worth a thousand words“.
If you supply venues with good professional quality posters, then for sure your show will attract more people to it than other shows in that same venue which have been crudely advertised with home-made posters printed out from someones PC (or heaven forbid just the dates and details of your show scrawled on one of those pub style chalkboards)!
So now you’ve decided you need a good quality professional poster created for your act, where do you start?
Well, the most important thing when deciding to get posters created for your act is the original design of the poster. Once you have your poster design created, you take it to any print shop and get them to run off as many copies of the poster as you want.
So your first port of call is to take a look at is a website called Upwork (formally Elance, just google them). They have hundreds of graphic designers, all looking for work. It’s a really popular hub where graphic designers looking for work – and people looking for graphic designers to do work – can get together.
The way it works is that you place a (free) ad outlining the work you want done, then all the hundreds of graphic designers who are on Upwork will see your ad and the ones who specialise in that particular area of design will send you quotes offering to take on your work. The theory is that the graphic designers will outbid each other in an attempt to secure your business so you end up getting your poster design done by a professional but for the very best price possible.
Of course, like everything in life, cheapest doesn’t always mean best, so ask to see some samples of their previous work just to make sure they are the right designer for you. For best results, be very specific about what you want designed and how you want your poster to look (colours, images, fonts etc). Remember that the designers time and resources are not a bottomless pit so you can’t expect to get a rock bottom cheap price and the designer do a dozen different designs for you just so you can pick the one you like best. Expect to pay a very large premium if you want that kind of level of service.
The secret here is to be very specific, and if possible even send the designer a pic of a poster you’ve already seen that you like the look of to give him some idea of the type of thing you’re looking for (or send him the URL of a webpage which has a poster design that you like).
Obviously copyright laws mean that he can’t just copy someone elses design for you, but it will give him an idea of the type of idea you have in mind and help him get closer to designing what you want. Most good designers will keep you constantly involved throughout the design process and will usually allow you to make a couple of reasonable changes to the drafts before you settle on a final finished design. The operative word of course here is “reasonable”. The designer can’t see inside your head so he doesn’t know what you want created. So you need to be as clear as absolutely possible from the start.
The other side of the coin of course is that you’re paying the designer to do a job, so you want a good job done. Don’t accept any sloppy work from him. Don’t always rely on recommendations either. It’s not unknown for a designer to be a little bit busy and under pressure at certain times and some designers who would otherwise be attentive and take time with your design under normal circumstances, may try and fob you off with something they’ve cobbled together a bit too quickly just because they happened to have another big job on at the time. Just watch out for that.
Once your poster has been designed, you should ask the designer to supply the finished poster design to you in a vector based format such as an ai file or a pdf file or similar. Different designers like to work with different file formats so it’s usually best to leave it pretty much up to them what format they want to supply the finished poster design in, but the only reason I suggest you stipulate that it MUST be supplied in some type of vector based format is because you want your poster to be in a format that allows you to blow it up in size while still keeping the picture quality.
This is of the utmost importance because although right at this moment you may only be thinking of using your poster to print out A3 or A1 size posters, you may in the future want to use that same poster for a large banner stand or even a stage backdrop, so you want it designed and supplied in a format that ensures blowing it up to such a massive size won’t result in poor quality.
Once you have your poster designed the way you want it and in the file format you want it, burn it on to a CD-R or put it on to a USB stick. Then it’s just a case of shopping around to find a printer who will print you out good quality poster prints on good quality paper and for the best price.
Shop around locally and on the internet for printers. There’s pros and cons to both. Although internet prices may appear cheaper, there will usually be a postage charge on top and if the posters are large and bulky the postage costs could be quite considerable, especially if the posters are being printed overseas.
Also remember that if your poster prints arrive by post from an internet printer and the colours haven’t printed out as well as you wanted or the paper quality isn’t what you expected, it’s not so easy to return them as it is with a local print shop.