Project 1

Poster Remix


You are challenged to create a dynamic poster design for an upcoming event in the WSU Visiting Writer Series.* The event features three innovative contemporary poets at a reading titled “Experimental Poetry in Action.” The coordinator of the series asks that you use only typographic elements—the text for the event provided at the end of this handout—in your design to highlight the idea of experimental writing (scroll to the end of this page for poster copy and information on poets). You must use all the relevant event information on your poster, but you may rearrange it in any way you wish. Seek to make a composition that draws the viewer in and captures the innovative spirit of the event. At the same time, you want to make sure the relevant information promoting the event is legible enough to decipher.

Employ your knowledge of how letters, words, and texts can function as point, line, and plane to achieve a balanced composition. Should your design be symmetrical or asymmetrical? Scale, figure/ground relationships, and visual texture will also be critiqued throughout the project.

This project will provide a review of some of the basics of working in Adobe Illustrator, and will establish best practices your instructor would like you to follow this semester when working with digital files in design software like Illustrator and Photoshop.

* Note: This event is fictional but we will have an opportunity to explore the work of Patrick Coleman in early February, who will be visiting campus as part of the WSU Visiting Writer Series this semester.

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Readings & Tutorials

Read these chapters from Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips:

  • Point, Line, Plane
  • Rhythm and Balance
  • Scale
  • Texture
  • pg 106 from Gestalt Principles (on Figure/Ground)

Also make sure you have read the assigned work by the poets featured on the poster (see below in Additional Resources section)

Tutorials: Important information regarding use of Illustrator will be delivered as lecture material during class. In addition, students are expected to review Adobe tutorials as needed. Links to specific topics you may need to review are provided in the Illustrator Guidelines section below.

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Introductory Activity: Poster Collage

  • due Tuesday, 1/21 at beginning of class

Your challenge today is to create three different compositional arrangements of the provided poster by cutting and pasting the text onto clean sheets of 8.5×11 paper using glue sticks and scissors. Based on your reading of the Point, Line, Plane and Rhythm and Balance chapters, consider how the words can function visually as point, line, or plane within the composition as they either group together or separate from one another. Also consider symmetry and asymmetry. Try to create compositions that explore three very different and visually dynamic solutions, but make sure the text remains relatively legible.

You must use all the words provided for each poster design (this is the text that the client, the WSU English Department, gave you to design a poster for the Visiting Writer series). However, you may cut the words into as many pieces as you wish and you may rearrange the order in which the text is presented to make the composition you desire. (For example, lines of text as they are printed on your original do not have to remain together. Nor do all the letters in one word, and so on.)

Finish three different designs for the next class. You will hand them in.

Here is a PDF if you need more copies of the text to print, cut, and collage.

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Final Poster Remix Design

  • due Tuesday, 2/4 at beginning of class

After exploring compositional options in the hands-on collage activity, you will create a final design for the poster using basic tools in Adobe Illustrator. You should follow the guidelines listed below as you work. They have been designed by your instructor so you focus your creativity energy on compositional strategies. Before you start working, review the overall goal of the poster design in the overview for this assignment.

Design Guidelines:

  1. Design for 11×17 poster, oriented vertically
  2. Use the typeface assigned to you in class: Helvetica, Futura, Gill Sans, Baskerville, or Georgia
  3. You may use any size, weight, and style within this type family, but do not distort the typeface by scaling up or down disproportionately
  4. Text must be 100% black or white. Background must stay white. (Hint: You may scale letters up to a very large size, and letters may overlap, so you may be able to play with figure/ground relationships in an interesting way, even if you can’t change the background color to black.)
  5. Only use the letters/words from the provided copy to create your composition (no additional shapes). Text may appear anywhere on the page, at any orientation, and may overlap. Pay attention to the edges of your poster (cropping and framing): In a full-bleed design, some of your content may seem to spill off the edge of the page.
  6. Periodically print your compositions to see how they look in physical space. Make adjustments accordingly.
  7. If you create more than one design, save these versions in your Illustrator file on multiple artboards.
  8. Remember that we will be discussing your designs in regards to our readings on point, line, and planerhythm and balance, scale, texture, and figure/ground relationships, as well as other design principles that may arise. As you work, ask yourself: Which compositional strategy is most appropriate for this event and its audience? How could this composition be stronger? What would the writers featured at the event think of your poster? What would the coordinator of the WSU Visiting Writers Series think? You will submit a write-up addressing these questions when you hand in your poster.

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Illustrator Guidelines

Make sure you take notes on expected use of the required tools and panels in Illustrator. This is the Character panel, which you use to change font family, size, style, etc.

  1. Make sure you use layers and grouping to organize the components of your design in a way that is logical. Depending on the complexity of your work, you may have fewer or more groups and layers.
  2. Make sure you use the Type tools, the Paragraph panel, and the Character panel as we discussed in class. Also make sure to follow your instructor’s recommendations regarding punctuation such as hyphens.
  3. Delete stray paths and objects that are not part of your final design(s). You may include more than one artboard in your final file if you attempted multiple versions of the poster.
  4. Save your file as a copy and convert all type to outlines before submission. This will ensure you do not have missing fonts in your final file.
  5. Name the file “”. File naming must be exact.
  6. Save a version of the final file as a high resolution, high quality PDF. [File > Save As: Choose “Format: Adobe PDF.” Hit “Save.” In the next dialog box choose “Adobe PDF Preset: High Quality Print” and  Uncheck “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities”. Hit “Save PDF.”]
  7. Save a version of the final file as a high resolution, high quality JPG. [File > Export > Export As: Choose “Format: JPG,” and have “Use Artboards” checked. Hit “Export.” In the next dialog box choose “Maximum Image Quality” and “Resolution: High (300 ppi)”. Hit “OK.”]

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What You Will Turn In

Digital Files. Your instructor will create a shared OneDrive folder that you will use to hand in your final digital files. Only these final files should be placed in that folder:

  1. Illustrator file: named “”
  2. PDF file: named “yourlastname-yourfirstname-01.pdf”
  3. JPG file: named “yourlastname-yourfirstname-01.jpg”


  1. Poster: A high quality print of your final poster design. You may print this in Avery 103 on the 11×17 printer as long as you are getting a nice, clean print. Ideally, print from Illustrator. If you go to CougPrints, you will need your PDF or JPG file.
  2. Write-Up: A one-page double-spaced write-up that defends your design decisions for this project. Your write-up should demonstrate comprehension of readings and course material, as well as the requirements of the assignment described on this page.

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Learning Objectives 

  • Comprehension and application of relevant design principles through design and written work, as well as class discussion and critique: Point, line, plane; rhythm and balance, texture, figure/ground, and scale
  • Sensitivity to visual aspects of letterforms and typefaces, as well as practical application of these components in relevant design software
  • Communicating appropriately for an audience: What would the client think of your work?
  • Comprehension of Illustrator tools: artboards, selection tool (selecting and rotating objects), type tool, stroke/fill, character panel, paragraph panel, layers, scaling proportionately, transforming/rotating, printing, saving as PDF, exporting as JPG
  • Establish expectations for how digital files should be created, organized, and turned in, along with printed versions of projects and write-ups.

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Additional Resources:

Required Poster Copy

This is the exact text that must appear on your poster design:

Experimental Poetry in Action

Joan Retallack

K. Silem Mohammad

Collier Nogues


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Washington State University

Museum of Art

Pullman, WA

Presented by WSU Visiting Writer Series 2019-2020

Joan Retallack is an American poet, critic, biographer, and multi-disciplinary scholar who has authored seven books, including Circumstantial Evidence (1985), Icarus FFFFFalling (1994), A F T E R R I M A G E S (1995), and Memnoir (2004).

K. Silem Mohammad is the author of several books of poetry, including Deer Head Nation (2003), A Thousand Devils (2004), Breathalyzer (2008), and The Front (2009). He teaches English and Writing at Southern Oregon University.

Collier Nogues is the author of The Ground I Stand On Is Not My Ground, winner of the 2014 Drunken Boat Poetry Book Contest, and On the Other Side, Blue (Four Way, 2011). She teaches creative writing in the Master’s of English Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Information about the Poets:

Familiarize yourself with the work of the poets so you can create a poster design that fits the mood of the event:

Here is a link to a PDF of poems from Joan Retallack‘s book How to Do Things with Words

K. Silem Mohammad will read from The Sonnagrams (2009), in which he anagrammatizes Shakespeare’s sonnets into all-new English sonnets in iambic pentameter. An anagram is a word or phrase made by changing the order of the letters in another word or phrase.

Collier Nogues‘s new book, The Ground I Stand On Is Not My Ground, creates erasure poems out of historical documents related to the development and aftermath of the Pacific War. Read the Radio Speech poems.