APP1: Researching posters, the audience, and how to raise awareness

For this blog post, I will be researching into what a poster can be defined as, and also thinking about some of the decisions I will need to make with regards to sizing, orientation, and printing. I will also explore in more detail about the audience for these posters and how the posters could be used to increase awareness of the Land Speed Record.

What is a poster defined as being?

I thought it would be a good idea to find out what a poster can be defined as, to see where the boundaries are. To find out I looked in the dictionary:

poster (noun)

  1. A large printed picture used for decoration.

  2. A large printed picture, notice, or advertisement displayed in a public place: [ as modifier ] : a poster campaign.

For this project, it will be the first definition that is relevant to me as the brief I am working to states the audience will buy these posters, presumably to display on a wall, whether that is in a frame or not.

There are posters, such as some of the Aston Martin Racing posters I picked up from Prodrive earlier this year were originally closer to the second definition, to raise interest in an event, but now are bought by Aston Martin and motor racing fans to use as a ‘decoration’ for walls etc. or to keep as collectable items.

Poster sizes:

An interesting discussion point, that makes a big difference to the poster is the size, as it determines the level of detail required, the viewing distance it can be appreciated from, and how convenient it is for people to place on their wall if they want to.

My starting point was to look at some of the posters I’ve gathered over the years, and pick out examples of sizes.

The Mercedes F1 poster below is an example of an A1 poster. It features the ‘Exploded View’ exhibited at Mercedes Benz World, Brooklands. Something of this size is truly needed in order to capture all the details that go into making a Formula 1 car. It is an example of a poster that can be admired from either afar or up close.


Below is an example of an A2 poster I found of an Audi R8 road car. What is interesting to note is that the poster can have just as much of an impact as the A1 poster discussed, because there is one main focal point, instead of several. Looking at the size of A2, I think it is going to suit my project well, but there is more investigating to be done.

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Of course, not all posters are actually A1 or A2, some are different sizes, either to fit into magazines or just to fit the content. An example of this is the poster below celebrating the success of the Audi R8 endurance racing car, which is the height of A2, but the width is a bit shorter. It also shows a poster highlighting some information, although it is not especially stunning in terms of design.

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One day last week, whilst sitting in the studio at college, I started looking at the size of the posters on the pinboard at the back of the room, which had A1, A2 and A3 posters on (despite the poor photo making the A2 look no bigger than the A3…). This provided a very useful way of assessing what size would be best for the audience, where I could view it from different positions and distances.

Poster-size-web

To get a range of opinions I asked the opinion of other students in the group and the consensus was that A3 would be far too small for something with a good level of detail. They also said that A1 would be excessively large, although we agreed if I was to produce a poster with several Land Speed Record vehicles on together, then A1 would be needed in order for everything to be displayed at a suitable size and spacing. 

A2 is also a better size for a set of posters if some of the audience decided they want all or several posters from the set to be displayed. My conclusions are that A2 is likely to be the best size, however I will print a design at A3 once it is completed to make sure and ask for opinions again.

Realising the set of posters:

Following on the previous point, I need to think about how to print these posters. I believe it will be more cost effective to print them using the Epson printer at college. This prints at sizes up to A2, so there should not be a problem as my conclusion from the last section was that A2 is likely to be the best option.

What this does mean however, is that I will need to source some A2 paper. As the Epson printer is incredibly ‘fine-tuned’ (or fussy!) as to what paper is used with regards to quality printing performance I will likely try and pick up some Epson branded paper, not forgetting an A2 folder to actually move the paper and finished posters around in.

Epson A2 paper
Amazon: Epson A2 250gsm Premium Photo Lustre paper

I am thinking this paper might do. I will discuss this with my tutor and see what we think. From there I can make up my mind as to what to do.

Poster orientation:

The other important decision to be made about the posters is their orientation. This is something that I will fully explore when I properly experiment with my ideas, but as my sketch below demonstrates, common sense dictates a landscape orientation, as the vehicles will be low and long, being able to be featured at a larger size, with more detail visible. Also, the background will be of the landscape where they set the record.

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Audience:

As I stated in the brief/proposal the audience is initially:

“anyone with an interest in the Absolute Land Speed Record, but the aim is to capture the interest of anyone into automobiles, motorsport, or on a wider scale, major engineering achievements. This will make for an especially varied audience.”

Therefore I do not think it is easy or even possible to put a conclusive boundary to the audience demographics and say that x% fall into the A-C1 category for example. However, I believe it is probably accurate to discuss two broad audience types who would be interested:

1) Students learning as part of the Bloodhound SSC Education Program. These would be for those children at school who have been majorly inspired by Bloodhound, with this springing an interest in other Land Speed Record posters. Depending on the age, the imagery is likely to be most important, but the facts will help give them knowledge.

2) Anyone interested in major technological engineering advancements. These needn’t be automotive ones, for example Concorde was a supersonic passenger plane that captured much interest. They could be really from any age, which makes what they are looking for difficult to pin down. They could be like the person in point 1, or not be part of the program with an interest in another form of sport such as Formula 1, or be an adult who collects posters in order to frame them, or keep them as a collector’s item.

Designing for the audience

My designs will need to cater for a very wide audience range as discussed above, so it is important it is appealing to all. I think that the best solution here, is not to ‘dumb down’ the design. This will not appeal to ‘the collector’ or indeed anyone interested in posters who has a slightly more ‘refined’ aesthetic taste.

A case study for this is the Bloodhound SSC information graphics due to the choice of a blunt, bold typeface and  bold, brash colours Unfortunately it is not an example of beautiful design, although it is functional. I just think aesthetically more could have been done to show than just a silhouette of key vehicles etc.

These can be viewed by clicking here.

Increasing the audience through awareness:

In the brief/proposal, I also felt on an instinctive level that the audience could be widened if people actually knew more about the Land Speed Record, as I think it would be something that would impress them and interest them enough to follow this up.

This is being backed up as the project progresses, as I have spoken to many people both at college and outside of college, with lots of different types of people, some already interested in cars, some not, and what became apparent was that most did not know anything about the Land Speed Record.

The vast majority however when enquiring about the subject have shown a real interest in the project, especially when they find out some of the amazing facts and figures behind these vehicles. This makes me think if the posters can raise awareness by promoting the facts to a more visually prominent position and keep the main imagery posters should have, then it will be far more successful.

Conclusion:

I think the research I have done in this blog post has really helped the project to move along, as I have researched into and answered some important, fundamental questions, and investigated into how the posters will need to be styled in order to appeal to as many people as possible.

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