If you've ever had to lay out pages and pages of text and design for a brochure or a direct-mail campaign, a poster design project may seem simple by comparison. A poster is just one surface with one image and a smattering of text, how hard could it be?
But don't be fooled, there's a lot at work behind the surface simplicity of a poster's design. Successful posters need to have their own sense of symmetry and logic, and capture a complex idea or an emotion in one glance, using one image.
Before you map out your next poster or flyer design, spend some time learning about the history of poster design and looking at other great posters. Check out the inspiring poster archives below and take note of the styles, layouts, fonts and color combinations that you find striking, and don't be afraid to go vintage by imitating classic poster design elements.
This archive of real vintage posters is searchable by keyword. There is also a section of the website called "About Poster Art" with helpful history lessons on poster design. One area, called "Style Primers," takes you through the history of poster design giving examples and explanations of certain styles, including art deco, futurism and post-modern.
This page shows iconic examples of posters as they evolved from the late 1700s, when they were made with wooden letter presses, through the 1990s. The examples range from advertising to propaganda and provide an inspiring look back at historic posters.
This site has more than 8,000 designer-members who submit their work on concert and band posters. Try searching by band, or click on the "Top Posters" link to see the best new submissions. Whether you're designing a promotion for a band or for a local small business, these colorful, creative designs are an inspiring breath of fresh air.
If you are creating a poster to promote your own graphic design services, check out this batch of 50 posters, all focused on promoting graphic design. There are some crazy uses of pixels and typography at play in these samples.