Think about some of the most creative posters that you have seen throughout your life. I know that there are a handful that stick out in your brain.
For me, it’s the classic Star Wars poster that has hung on my wall for almost my whole life. You know, this one:
And in this article, I’m going to show you how to bring all of those together to come up with a creative poster idea.
With these 40+ tips, templates, and examples you’re going to be able to build a creative poster from scratch.
So let’s get into it!
Let’s be honest, this creative poster looks like it belongs on the wall of your favorite local boutique or coffee house. Maybe the one that knows you by name because you’re in there a little too often.
The designer pulled off this trendy look by combining a complementary color palette with a relatively simple layout. As you can see, the orange background really helps the off-white sections jump off the page. And the succulent, which is always trendy, adds a bit of interesting green to the background too.
2. Start with an eye-catching poster background image
Most of the time your poster background image or graphic is going to dominate the design. It’s also going to be the first thing that a reader will see, so you need to make it count.
These days many people just slap a vague stock image on their poster and call it a day. Now I have a well-documented hatred of most stock photos, but with this event poster template they absolutely nail it!
From the bold color palette to the way the image naturally divides the poster, to the modern font choice. It all comes together perfectly. Honestly, it may be one of my favorite creative poster ideas in this article! And it hurts me a little to say this, but the stock photo is what makes it perfect.
3. Use a color overlay for a more understated poster design
Like I said in the previous point, your poster background image or graphic is going to dominate the poster. This can cause some problems if you select a busy image, especially if you have a killer flat or minimalist poster idea.
However, if you still want to use a busy image, I would recommend using a color overlay like in this motivational poster example.
With a simple transparent layer, you can turn a vivid or colorful image into a reserved background in seconds. You can easily add a color overlay with a few clicks on Venngage! Like this:
Plus, a color overlay will make the text on your creative poster jump off the paper or screen.
4. Use leading lines to direct reader’s eyes on your creative poster
Leading lines direct the eye towards the focal point of an image. Using leading lines is a great way to compose a memorable picture. This photography composition concept can also be used to create a memorable poster as well, like in the example above.
In this case, the lines of the buildings naturally direct the eye down the poster to the job listings.
Without those leading lines, readers might not even notice the job listings. And this company would miss out on some great employees.
5. Create your own custom icon story
If you’re struggling to think of a creative poster idea, don’t worry icons are here to help! Because they are so versatile and plentiful I try to use them in all of my projects, especially posters.
As you can see in this informational poster, a collection of pollution centric icons come together to form a dolphin from scratch. All it takes is a few clicks like so:
And you can create your own icon story in no time!
Using icons to create a whole new story is very powerful and will make people stop to learn more. Especially if they are passionate about conservation, or just love dolphins.
One of the quickest ways for a designer to upgrade their creative poster idea is to use a two-toned title. Pick two contrasting colors that pop from the background.
This approach can instantly make any header eye-catching, as you can see in the poster example above. I’m guessing that you know that our eyes are drawn to objects that are different from those around them. You can use this inherent trait to grab a reader’s attention rather quickly.
7. Use a consistent page margin width to avoid clutter
In this creative poster example, there are A LOT of things going on. Multiple colors, fonts, words, and shapes come together to form a very interesting poster design. And there are hundreds of creative poster ideas just like this.
However, the poster feels professional because the designers used a consistent margin width around the text. As you go from one line to another, your eye knows exactly where to look.
So if you’re thinking about taking a similar approach, I would recommend using a consistent margin width.
8. Feature a bold color scheme to attract attention
If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed bold color coming back into the mainstream. After seeing ultra-minimalist designs dominate the last decade I’ve welcomed color back with open arms, especially on posters.
In this poster example, the designers used 8 bold colors to help the design stand out from other posters. I could see this poster on the wall of any dorm or school. The designers knew they were going to need a ton of bold color to get the attention of those darn millennials.
9. Pick a creative poster idea that reflects the theme
Making design choices that don’t fit the idea, theme, or topic of your creative poster is a common mistake that a new designer will make. Heck, it’s a mistake that I made in my early design days.
For example, since Europa is a moon off of Jupiter it would need a sci-fi or futuristic theme.
A fun font and colorful palette would not have the desired effect. And frankly, look out of place on a poster about space.
10. Divide your poster layout in half to contrast “before” and “after”
A common marketing tactic is to show how your customers’ lives are before and after they buy your product. Think about all the ads that you see on TV that show how your life will be better because of their product (even if they don’t always tell you what their product actually does)
The same idea can be used while coming up with a creative poster idea. In this poster example, the page is split in half to show the “before” and “after” effect of being an organ donor.
11. Look for creative ways to incorporate product shots into your poster design
Whoever created this product poster for Nest did an incredible job! They flawlessly blended a three-dimensional product right into the flat poster design. And best of all it doesn’t look overly promotional, or even out of place.
Now, maybe you don’t have a product that can be inserted into a poster so effortlessly like this. But you can use it as the background image, or even as the main focal point on your poster. All it takes is a little extra creativity, and you will be golden.
12. Upgrade a simple poster with bold shapes and patterns
Never use a raw stock photo. There are too many vague stock photos out there that do nothing to help your marketing collateral stand out.
This is a great rule of thumb when it comes to creating posters that succeed. Now you can start with a stock photo as your base, but you should make it your own before anyone sees it.
In this poster from Hami Miharu Matsunaga, they do just that. All it takes is an eye-catching pattern and some bold colors to instantly turns a nondescript photo into an interesting event poster.
13. Organize your poster into blocks to give it structure
When designing a poster with lots of components, like an event poster with lots of names, sometimes you have more information than you know what to do with.
To help keep your poster design organized, divide the page into “block” sections, like in the concert poster example above. The clean lines make it easier to scan the poster for
Without these sections, you would be left with a mess of band names, and some annoyed fans. So follow their lead and make sure you keep things well organized.
14. Use icons to direct the eye to important information
We have already talked about using leading lines to direct the eye in the right direction in a previous poster example. Well, this tip is similar: use icons to point to important information.
If the icons you select already look like arrows, like above, then you are made in the shade. These pointing shapes are called “directional cues”. It doesn’t really matter where you look on this poster, the icons are pointing you towards the center.
15. Create event posters for the day of the event as well
Most event posters advertise a certain event for many weeks or months in advance. I mean, almost all of the examples that we have featured in this roundup are like that.
However, you’re going to need posters on the day of the event as well. For example, this poster would probably be used the day of the event to point out where the actual festivities are.
Others could lists rules, a schedule or something that helps the event attendees out during the day. So don’t forget to create those kinds of posters before its too late!
16. Include a visual gag or pun, it never hurt anyone
If your creative poster idea can cause an emotional reaction, people are likely going to remember it.
You can achieve a positive reaction by not taking your poster design too seriously. And secondly, by using a visual pun or gag, like in the informative poster above. I know I’m going to remember this poster for weeks to come, mainly because it was so punny. I bet you will too.
17. Include a transparent shape to give the poster template depth
If you want to add some depth to your flat poster template, then this example is perfect for you.
The designer gave this poster extra depth by using a simple transparent shape. With a strong background image and a bold color scheme, this creative poster idea will stand out from the pack.
I think that a solid shape would not have had the same appeal, and instead made the poster flat and nondescript. But instead, the background image is able to filter through and give the poster some unique texture too.
18. Blend your topic into your font choices, or create your own
There are no rules out there that say you must use a premade font to bring your creative poster ideas to fruition. Sometimes you need to create a font from scratch, and with our collection of icons, you can create do just that!
We have already seen how a designer used related icons to create a dolphin from scratch. You can use the same general idea to build your own custom font as well.
For example in the event poster above, the designer actually uses musical graphics and icons to build an interesting font.
19. Use a solid background shape or border to make text pop
If you want to make text jump off your creative poster, follow the example above. They use solid black blocks to make the title text stand out. It also shows the reader where they should look first, which is always a plus.
Additionally, this tactic can highlight a date, a website, or something important on your poster. Just be sure to use this trick sparingly, or it loses its effectiveness.
20. Include clever design choices to stand out in this busy world
This creative poster looks like a mess of random shoes, right? Well, it is, from this angle.
But if you take a step back, you can clearly see that the shoes are actually spelling something out. It’s almost like one of those magic picture books that dominated the 90s.
And this creative poster idea will definitely catch someone’s eye as they are walking by. It may actually cause them to do a double take and come back to it. If that’s not an effective poster, I don’t know what is!
21. Highlight an object that everyone will recognize
Creative posters that reveal their complexity over time will have a lasting impact on your audience.
For example, if you took a quick glance at this poster you would probably see a grail. This object happens to be what they are searching for in this installment of Indiana Jones. Even the most casual fan, like myself, would recognize that imagery from afar.
But when you take a close look at the rest of the poster, you see the profiles of Indy and his father form the grail. This a great way to feature various iconic objects that causal, and hardcore, fans will be drawn to.
And it happens to be a famous optical illusion!
22. Include a simple and memorable tagline
In this fast-paced world, you have to get your message out there very quickly and efficiently. That means sometimes the most straightforward posters are best.
For example, this designer created a very interesting poster by saying two things with a single phrase.
They were able to create a very unique and modern poster by keeping things simple. They could have said both of those things separately on this poster, but the impact wouldn’t be the same. And it wouldn’t have been an interesting poster in the slightest!
23. Create variations of the same poster design
In this section, you’re going to get two creative poster examples, for the price of one! Well, actually, they are basically same event posters.
Both posters are a variation of the same design This is a fantastic way to design posters that fit different spaces and environments
The blue one might work best in a bar or coffee shop, but the red one fits a gym perfectly. Plus, in this case, the posters illustrate the competitive nature of the event perfectly! With one team using a red paddle, and other playing with the blue one.
24. Don’t be afraid of negative space
You don’t need to cover every single pixel of your graphic to create an interesting or creative poster. It’s good design practice to leave some negative space to allow your poster to breathe.
Especially if you’re trying to create a flat or minimalist poster, like above. As you can see in this example, the blank space actually helps the text pop off the page.
25. Make handwritten fonts the design focus of your poster
As brands try to become more genuine and lifelike, handwritten fonts will continue to be popular. They give each poster and design a bit of whimsy that other fonts don’t really have.
Take a minute to imagine how the example would feel if they used an ultra-modern font. I’m pretty confident that it would look out of place, and not have the same impact.
Especially if it was paired with a quote that can cause an emotional reaction, like in the poster template above.
26. Make sure all the important details are in one spot
Searching a creative poster for important details, like an event location or time, can be a pain. If the key information isn’t easy to find, your poster won’t be doing its job effectively.
That’s why I recommend placing the pertinent information in the same general area. Things like the date, a website, or the event location should all be in a single spot. Usually, the header or footer is a safe spot for this info.
In this poster example from AAF Omaha, all of their key info is grouped together. They use negative space to make the information stand out from the background.
27. Visualize your event schedule or timetable with a timeline
The designer for this poster decided to visualize the event’s schedule directly on the poster using a timeline. They could have included a start and end time, like many other posters on this list. But this makes it easy for readers to know if any events are happening simultaneously.
28. Let the poster background image influence your design choices
Most of the time the poster background is, well, kinda fades into the background. But it doesn’t have to, and can instead be the focal point of your poster.
In the hiring poster above, the background image actually set the tone for the whole poster. From the font color to the poster structure, and even the way the text is oriented. And it all comes together to create a pretty unique poster.
29. Elevate a minimalist design with accent colors
I think, one of the bigger misconceptions in the design world is that minimalist posters should have no color. However, minimalist design ideals focus on using the bare essentials to create something beautiful and functional. There’s no more, or no less used, just a perfect balance.
In this creative poster example, they do that, with some accent colors to make it more eye-catching. This poster design could’ve been a boring line drawing if they stuck to just one color. But the pops of bold color help make it more striking.
30. Use an infographic to tell a data-driven story
If you want to include some data or charts on your poster, I would recommend using an infographic as inspiration.
With an infographic, you can use graphs, figures, maps and charts to effectively tell a story. As you can see in the example above, they use all of these graphics in an interesting way.
All of these graphics come together to efficiently explain how Credilogic grew over the past decade. From the timeline infographic that explains their origin story to the graph that shows their growth over the year, and even the logo history.
If they were wanting to introduce their company to the community with this infographic-like poster, I would say they succeeded.
31. Use a landscape page orientation for a different poster design
As you may have noticed, almost every poster we have featured (and most posters in general) share one thing in common: they are actually all vertically oriented.
If you want to stand out from all of the other posters in the world, try using a horizontal–or landscape–page orientation. In the event poster example above, they do just that and it works very well.
32. Feature a single call-to-action on your poster
I’m guessing that if you’re creating a poster, you want a person to take an action after they read it. In the marketing world, we call that a call-to-action, and you should have one on almost every poster that you create.
This call-to-action could tell people to come to your event at a certain time or ask for a follow on social media.
In the creative poster example above, their call to action tells readers to visit a website for more information about the event. This is a great way to engage with readers on a more interactive platform.
Just remember to only have one call to action, or you risk confusing your audience.
33. Highlight an important piece of information with a contrasting font color
Sometimes all you need to do to grab someone’s attention is highlight a particular word or phrase. This phrase could be something like “Free”, “Act Now” or “50% Off.”
Or, in the case of this creative poster example, the word “Drink.” As you can see, this word is highlighted in a particular font color to make sure it jumps off the poster.
The designers know that people aren’t going to pass up the opportunity for free food and drinks, so they made sure readers can’t miss it.
34. Tell a story with images or icons, not words
It’s a well-known fact that your brain processes images a lot faster than text. And you can use this hack to make your creative poster a guaranteed knockout.
All you need is a few icons or graphics that can tell a quick story, like in the poster example above. However, try to only use recognizable or simple icons to tell your story. Nothing too technical or out of right field, or your readers will end up confused.
I’m guessing that you were able to decipher that this minimalist poster was for a winter jazz concert pretty quickly. But if not, they added some explanatory text below the icons too.
35. Improve almost any photograph with a duotone
Duotones hit the graphic design world hard last year, and seem to be sticking around for a while This style became very popular because it allows a designer to add bold and bright colors to any image.
If you’re looking for a bold poster background, a duotone is perfect. Especially when you want to improve a stock photo. Or keep a consistent color palette throughout the poster, like in the poster example above.
36. Incorporate unconventional borders for a modern poster design
I would recommend featuring a border on all your minimalist posters, like above. It will help give the most basic poster some much-needed structure.
This border actually helps direct your eye to the important information on the poster. It’s functional and gives the poster a sleek modern look.
37. Change the reader’s perspective, literally
You may need to change perspective if you’re having trouble thinking of a creative poster idea. Start by taking a new look at a very common topic and you will have a ton of great ideas in no time.
In this example from IQ Agency, they take that idea very literally and design a memorable poster. Almost everyone knows the NYC skyline, that’s not unique. But when they flip the perspective and add some bold, partially obscured text, this poster becomes an instant classic.
38. Use hand-drawn illustrations to give your poster a playful feel
I’m a big fan of using hand-drawn illustrations for a lot of the same reasons I like hand-drawn fonts.
They both can add a bit of fun and whimsy to any poster. Plus, the icons can make the poster feel a lot more genuine, even if it’s created by a massive corporation.
If hand-drawn illustrations fit your brand, like in the example above, I would definitely use them as well. I can’t think of a better place than Maker Faire, which is filled with quirky creators, to use hand-drawn illustrations!
39. Combine multiple design influences for a truly creative poster idea
Now, I’ll admit that it took me a few viewings to see how amazing this poster is. But after I saw exactly what the designer was trying to say, I was sold.
The inspiration for this poster actually came from both the event, a night market, and the date it was being held on, the 4th Of July.
They then smashed those ideas together to create a killer poster. With the flag providing structure for the poster and then folding into an old school stall that you could find at the market. It’s perfect!
40. Use related color and shapes to break down a complex schedule
If you’re going to include a lot of info on your creative poster, I would recommend breaking it down into consumable chunks.
The presentation is really up to you and depends on the amount of info you want to share. You can use color, shapes, or borders to keep things organized.
Or you could combine all of those design ideas like they did in the event poster example above.
Instead of just listing their event schedule on a blank piece of paper, the designers used color and shapes to beautifully connect it all.
41. Go ahead and pick an EXTRA bold color palette
We’ re going to end this collection with an example that I love. I actually saw this collection of posters a few months ago, and have been waiting to use it in an article.
The extra bold color was what initially caught my eye, and I’m guessing your eye as well.
But my favorite thing about this collection of posters is that you have to view all of them to get the whole story. The bold color and slightly obscured text create a sense of continuity between them.
Overall it’s one of the best creative poster ideas I have seen in a long while.
Some final creative poster ideas to keep in mind
You made it to the end of our roundup of creative poster ideas! Great job!
Here are some key poster design tips to keep in mind:
- Use a color overlay for a more understated poster design
- Keep consistent margin widths on your poster
- Incorporate your product directly into your creative poster ideas
- Use directional cues like icons and illustrations to direct the eye to important information
- Design two complementary creative posters
- Group important information together to help it stand out
- Use accent colors in your minimalist designs
- Use hand-drawn illustrations on your poster design
- Go ahead and pick an EXTRA bold color palette
And if you’re looking for a little more info about creating posters I would start here: