H697 Changed Way of Seeing

I spent the last four days at a conference, and at this conference there was a poster session. This was my first time ever going to a poster session, and I had no idea what to expect. Still, I had not anticipated wandering around looking at the posters and thinking about them as much in terms of design as content (sometimes more).

I really shouldn’t have been surprised. As this xkcd strip points out, once you learn to see things like kerning, you may never stop seeing them. 

Some of the posters had good visuals but were weak on the information included. They lacked a strong Who, What, Why (not to mention Where, When, How). Others had good topics but were information-heavy, with very little white space and no flow. Most were good, but not outstanding, with a working balance of visuals and text.

There was, however, one which I saw and immediately thought “Wow. They really thought this through.” The overall design clearly evoked a particular cultural marker (tourist postcard), the text was readable, and the whole thing communicated their goal and focus. Here is my slightly skewed cameraphone picture of the poster:

Poster for History in Bloom
History In Bloom poster, OAH/NCPH 2012

It looks like an old postcard, especially in the filter they used to posterize (I think?) the picture of the Smithsonian Castle. The planted borders subtly connect the three text boxes. The eye is drawn from upper left to lower right by the larger font of the project title, History in Bloom, and the postcard greeting. The colors are consistent, the text is readable, and it clearly communicated the overall project in a format which was comfortable to read in the crowded space between tables and posters.

Apparently the project in its final form was sufficiently well-produced to be adopted by the Smithsonian; check out the History in Bloom page on the Smithsonian Gardens site.

2 Replies to “H697 Changed Way of Seeing”

  1. Hi Megan,

    My name is Corey Colwill — my advisor sent me a link to this blog. I actually worked on this project and helped create the poster. Thanks for the kind words! History in Bloom took much effort to produce and we are very proud that Smithsonian Gardens has adopted the program. I’m happy you understood the reference to the postcard. We decided that an interpretive approach to creating the poster would help illuminate our goals, process, as well as the program content (postcards were a Victorian American communication craze, the vibrant colors indicate that it’s not only an outdoor program but also a children’s program, etc). All in all, it shows we had a lot of fun.

    Again, thank you for the recognition and promotion of the program.


    1. Hi Corey,
      You’re very welcome. You did great work, and I’m glad the Smithsonian recognized that.

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