4.2 Museum posters

Brief

The brief was to create 3 x museum posters with each one focused at a different audience/age group. The purpose of the exercise was to think about how the design and execution of each poster would address the specific needs of its intended audience.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Three illustrations
  • A series of A3 posters to publicise the museum
  • Child aged 5–9
  • Teenager (13–16)
  • General adult audience
  • Encourage diverse sections of the population to visit and to perceive it as a place of interest
  • Select one object for each of the audiences and create an image centred around that object
  • Go to your local museum
  • Catalogue the exhibits
  • Organise your images according to the audience groupings
  • Explore options and make notes
  • Choose the media and colour range appropriate to your audience
  • Produce colour visuals for all the posters
  • Prepare finished artwork for at least one of the posters

Approach

My local museum is Kingston Museum that describes itself as:

Kingston Museum and Heritage Service is part of Kingston Library and Heritage Services and operates on two sites. The Museum, built in 1904, is located right next to Kingston Library and has three permanent galleries: Ancient Origins, Town of Kings, Eadweard Muybridge and an Art Gallery for temporary exhibitions.

Kingston History Centre at the Guildhall holds a large and growing collection of local history research material.

The museum is small and focuses very much on local history going back to the Saxons. Exhibits are generally organised by period apart for the ‘jewel in the crown’ which is the Eadweard Muybridge gallery.

The History Centre is a large archive of historical documents; 800 years of history through books, maps, photographs, newspapers and archival collections.

Both the Museum and History Centre are in central Kingston and easily accessible if you know where to look.

In terms of presentation, the Museum’s current marketing materials seem conservative although the content is informative and interesting. There doesn’t appear to be any single brand identity or logotype for the Museum although there is consistency in use of the Kingston Borough Council logo.

Research

My research was in two parts:

  1. A visit to Kingston Museum to collect initial research materials
  2. A visit to the Kingston History Centre to explore specific subjects in more detail

Kingston Museum

Although I had been the museum once before I really couldn’t remember much about it, so my initial visit was a real discovery session.

During the visit, I spent time looking at the exhibits and how they were presented as well as taking photographs of anything that I found interesting and engaging. I tried not to be too analytical at this point.

I also gathered information leaflets from the Museum shop.

At home, I reflected on the information collected and started to think about topics with potential for further investigation. My thinking was that these topics could be explored in a lot more detail through a visit to the History Centre.

Kingston History Centre

I went to the History Centre with several topics including:

  • Eadweard Muybridge – his life and work
  • Leisure activities over the last 150-years – particularly cycling and swimming
  • Nipper the HMV dog
  • The Coronation Stone and its origin and history
  • The stained-glass windows in the museum

I was looking for unexpected facts and connections and anything visually interesting. The quirkier the better.

I explained the nature of my research to the librarians and asked them what their favourite artefacts were to see if that generated any new ideas and came away with supplementary information in the form of written notes and photocopies of articles and photographs.

The release agreement I signed gives me permission to use the materials for personal use only.

Analysis

Client needs

The client needs are expressed in the brief:

The posters should encourage diverse sections of the population to visit and to perceive it as a place of interest.

Audience needs

Audience needs expressed in the form of user stories.

Audience Audience need How this will be addressed in the posters
Museum staff As a member of museum staff or volunteer, I want to see that the museum is being portrayed in an innovative and creative way so that visitor numbers will increase The poster design needs to portray information in a creative way
Children (5 – to 9-years) As a young child, I want the poster to include interesting facts so that I’m interested in finding out more Facts to be layered i.e. an initial headline (could be text or image) as well as slightly more supplementary facts. The facts must be something interesting and engaging for the audience
As a young child, I want to see information presented in a way that I can relate to easily so that I can understand the messages(s) The design to be simple and engaging for the audience
As a young child, I want my trip to the museum to be fun so that I enjoy myself Try and communicate a sense of fun in the communication i.e. not dry and boring
Parents As a parent, I’m looking for new ideas to entertain my children so that I can keep them occupied The poster to communicate that the museum is an interesting place for children to visit
As a parent thinking of visiting the museum with my children, I need to know where the museum is, how much it costs and the opening times, so that I can decide whether to visit Include opening times, address, website link and social media links on the poster
As a parent thinking of visiting the museum, I want to see interesting exhibits so that I learn something too Make the topic on the poster as interesting to parents as it is to children i.e. something they can both connect with in different ways
As a parent thinking of visiting the museum, I want to do activities with my children that we can experience and engage with together Try and communicate a sense of fun in the communication i.e. not dry and boring
Teenagers (13 to 16-years) As a teenager who has never visited the

museum I need to know that the museum exists and that it’s close to the town centre so that I know I can get there without too much effort

Include opening times, address, website link and social media links on the poster
As a teenager who has never visited the

museum I need to know that admission is free so that I know I don’t have to spend any money to get in

Include the fact that admission is free on the poster
As a teenager who has never visited the

museum I need to see a fact or topic that I can instantly engage with so that I know I’ll get value from a visit

Choose a topic that is easily interesting/engaging to this audience
Adults As an adult that has never visited the museum, I need to know that the museum exists and how I can access it so that I can plan my visit Include opening times, address, website link and social media links on the poster
As an adult that has never visited the museum, want to see interesting facts about the museum and/or it’s exhibits so that I’ll know it’s worth a visit Choose a topic that is easily interesting/engaging to this audience

Concepts

I brainstormed ideas/approaches that would provide ‘hooks’ for the audience into the content.

Mindmap
Mind map from A5 sketchbook

The overall concept I came up with was to use a combination archive photographs, illustrations from my own research or from the archive, text and handwritten text to present the subject matter under an overarching headline:

‘Come and Discover’.

Generating ideas

I order to generate ideas I carried out two activities:

  1. Consolidated my research and structured the materials into my sketchbook
  2. Looked at other illustrators for inspiration

Topics

All research was in an A3 sketchbook, so the 2-page images below are at A2 size.

Inspiration

Following the previous exercise Identifying tools and materials, I was keen to explore using collage; the museum poster brief seemed to lend itself well to this approach.

The illustrators I looked at for inspiration were:

  • Martin Haake
  • Sara Fanelli

I selected these illustrators as inspiration for this exercise because they both combine found elements, hand drawn illustration and lettering in an surprising and interesting way.

I particularly like Sara Fanelli’s weird and wonderful characters that inhabit a strangely surreal world.

REFLECTION POINT – At this point in the process I had a good idea about the subject for each poster, I had analysed audience needs and had reference from other illustrators to help create a suitable visual treatment.

I had to think carefully about how my visual design would answer specific audience needs.

When I tested the original teenage poster idea on a teenager it just didn’t resonate with them. I had to make it visually and textually much more about them. For example, the original strapline which was:

  • A swimming legend – the first man to swim the channel both ways

Became

  • 1950s Youth Culture – teen lifestyle and subculture before computers, mobile phones and social media

The underlying content, which is teenagers hanging out at the extremely popular Surbiton Lagoon is the same, it’s just the hooks into the content are very different.

I also had to add a more interesting image to the collage that more clearly speaks to teenagers, that might for example be interested in vintage fashion.

Thumbnails

I created thumbnails for each poster at different stages of the development. These were across A5 and A3 sketchbooks.

Colour visuals

I worked up two colour visuals. The colour swatch for each is very much determined by the background ‘found’ collage elements.

Final artwork

I chose to develop the poster aimed at children.

The elements I enjoyed creating the most was the cartoon dog. The different visual components that made up the final artwork were either copied direct from the sketchbook or created from scratch.

The elements were all pulled together in Illustrator and Photoshop.

EPSON MFP image

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I think this was one of the best researched exercises that I’ve done. I enjoyed going into the museum with an open mind and then creatively selecting and narrowing down on specific subjects. It was nice to see that most of the ideas came through accident and discovery.
  • Kingston Museum was perfect for this brief.
  • The final artwork is quite a departure from my usual style.
  • I laughed out loud at the mad dog cartoon – hopefully that translates.
  • Mapping out audience needs in quite a structured way supported my creative and editorial decisions.

What I could have done differently/better

  • I’m not sure that the visual hierarchy in the poster is correct. I did try several different points of view and settled on one with the cartoon dog in the footer of the poster. It might have worked better at the top under the headline but I’d need to test that idea on a few more people – getting views from children and parents would be good.