COLOURlovers Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Sprague on The Art of Poster Design

COLOURlovers Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Sprague on The Art of Poster Design

Poster design is a really fun, inexpensive and unique way to explore your creative side. From the 1,000's of fonts, variety of poster sizes, and layouts, sometimes, it's difficult to know where to start!

Once you master your design techniques visit Next Day Flyers for fast poster printing at great prices.

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Today we are interviewing Jessica Sprague, design guru and owner of In February, Jessica is heading off a four week Poster Design course. She is also giving away not one, but TWO seats to this really awesome class! I couldn't be more excited about the class after taking Jessica's Subway Art class. I'm a busy mom, so I don't have a whole lot of time to join in a live class, which is why I love Jessica's classes- they are self-paced and available forever!

Follow Jessica: Twitter & Facebook

Can you tell us about yourself, how long have you been designing? Teaching? Do you have a job outside of

In my former life I was a web & user interface designer for a software company, so I've been designing in some form or another for about 14 years. I started teaching digital scrapbooking, Photoshop, and graphic design in 2007 when I opened Since then it is my full-time job, and I love it!

What three (or less) singular colors do you most identify with, why?

My favorite color is green - I love it in almost all of its shades from lime to olive. It's the color of growth and regeneration, of calm energy, of prosperity, learning, balance, and harmony.

If you had to describe yourself [currently] as a five color palette, what colors would they be? Could you provide me with HEX codes so I can create a JS palette for you? :)

I feel like I am a blue, two greens, and a red, coupled with a dark grey. Hex: aed835, d9ea65, 81c9c0, a90c19, a90c19

The greens I've already described. The blue is an ocean representing responsibility, stability, trustworthiness. The red represents fire and emotion, and the dark grey brings some gravity, but also represents the dark that balances the lighter, fresher colors.


If you could be a shape, what shape would you be? (i.e. a polygon = triangle, hexagon etc...)

I would be a 5-pointed star. :)


How do you approach incorporating color combinations in poster design? Where do you start on this process?

As with any design process, I always start with a theme or a concept. What is it that we're saying? What emotion do we want to evoke in the reader or viewer of this piece? Having a solid design concept, I move in to blocking shapes and choosing colors - usually designed to play on the overall theme.

Source: Jessica Bills

Personally I'm a font junkie, I'm sure you have a large collection of fonts yourself, how do you organize your collection?

I love fonts. LOVE. I collect them, drool over them, dream about them, find excuses to buy new ones. I have a lot of fonts - probably 1700 - and I use a program called Font Expert to organize my fonts. I need to get even better at organizing, when there's time! But right now I have them divided into categories. My categories include: 3d, Block, Calligraphic, Circus, Condensed, Cute, Decorative, Destroyed, Dingbats, Display, Distressed, Gothic, Handwritten, Modern, Monospaced, Ornaments, Outline, Quirky, Retro, Sans Serif, Script, Serif, Skinny, Stencil, Symbol, Typewriter, Wide, Worn.

How do you approach using fonts in poster design?

The typeface choices make a critical part of the design process - this typically comes as the style and theme of the poster is being fleshed out. I think the typography - especially in a poster where the message tends to be very brief and very LOUD, is especially important, and one of the hallmarks of a really good design vs. a less-effective one. Fonts say things in addition to the actual words they spell - they have personality and that personality needs to be respected and taken advantage of in a design.

Heavily using fonts seems quite trendy, where do you recommend a base knowledge or quick reference about font types and usage?

Mixing fonts is an art and a skill that takes time to develop - I recommend beginning to steep yourself in really good typography, such as the samples over at as a really good resource for getting a feel for the subtleties.

Source: Jessica Sprague The Art of Poster Design

How do you feel about using patterns in poster design? Something busy, but in the background? Or something simple like a chevron- those seem to be rather popular right now. What are some basic rules you follow when incorporating patterns into poster design?

I think patterns are great in limited ways in a poster - most posters rely on a one-or-two color press that doesn't allow for much multi-color pattern; but this is changing as the price for laser printing in large-scale formats continues to come down.

How would you describe your style when creating posters? Do you like to use big fonts? Do you tend to use the same fonts over and over?

The style of a poster is always dictated by the message and the style called for - but in general I like big bold fonts, large graphics, brushwork, and great details.

Source: Janet Carr, a student from Jessica Sprague's Subway Art class.

What do you think are the most common mistakes people make when designing a poster?

I think the most common mistake is that people are afraid to really fill the space in a poster - I see things centered with plenty of whitespace around the text, no color (even black on white can be a color if used well!), and just general blandness. A poster's purpose is to deliver a message in 10 seconds or less - boldness is the name of the game.

Where are you most likely to find inspiration when you're stuck in the mud?

I have Pinterest. I also have a few books, including The New Masters of Poster Design, which is excellent eye candy for all styles of posters.

How long is the filming process for the poster class from start to finish, including editing?

There will be about 12 hours of finished video for this class, which takes about three weeks to record and edit.

Since I've taken several of your classes, I know throughout the videos you give direction for both Photoshop and Elements users, do you prefer one program over the other?

Great question! In my own work I use Photoshop CS5, but I prefer teaching Photoshop Elements, because I love and adore the Project Bin! LOL. 

Source: Sunday Grennan of itsmesunday.

The Giveaway: Two Lucky COLOURlovers Will Win!

As mentioned above, Jessica has generously offered two seats in the class, a value of $63.99 per class! The giveaway starts today, January 30th, 2012 and ends next Monday, February 6th, 2012.

To Enter: 

Leave a comment telling us what your favorite font is and what theme you would use the font for when creating a poster or project.

The Art of Poster Design starts February 13th and ends March 11th. Jessica Sprague will be leading the class with step-by-step video instruction. This is considered an intermediate class. You can sign-up or get more detailed information here.

I've recently created a digital crafting group on COLOURlovers, feel free to join, and share your works of art, palettes, patterns, and chat with people who have the same interests! 

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Showing 91 - 108 of 108 Comments
LOL!! What's wrong with Comic Sans? It's MY favorite! ;)

rainbowdog wrote:
My favorite font is comic sans.

Just kidding!

I'm a boring traditionalist...I love Georgia and all its forms. It's such a nice font for both copy and display text. I already used it for my wedding invites. I think it's great for text heavy posters.
I love Palitino. It's just elegant. The posters I design are for a small non profit theatre group and the fonts I use depend on the subject matter of the play we are advertising. The fonts and art have to attract attention since we are usually limited to a one or two color palate to keep costs down.
I design infographics for my online social media classes, so I love using simple, clean fonts. My favorite is Helvetica Neue, as it's a sans serif font with a clean look that can be crisp or command attention in bold.

Great interview and the class sounds awesome. Thanks for the opportunity.
What a great opportunity this is! I love Jessica's work. It would be a wonderful class to take!

Century Gothic is one of my all-time favourites! I love its purity and elegant simplicity!

I use Century Gothic in many of my designs. If my theme requires a smart, classy look, this font does the job beautifully!

I used this font for a client's corporate branding business site. The site had a dark theme with white text and Century Gothic really gave the site a clean and stylish look!
LOL Carol!! You HAVE taken a few of Jessica's classes, haven't you!!

[email protected] w wrote:
I am a big fan of grunge and graphic so I like Tw Cen MT Condensed and my all time favorite is Chato Band. Best purchase I've ever made! I love how it's elegant but dirty and grungy at the same time. Excellent for accent words.

By the way, Jessica's classes are the only ones I do because she makes learning a breeze. "Carol Wehner thinks she's amazing!" [*wink*]
I like simplicity, sans-serif and vintage fonts. One font that I am using A LOT these days is Amatic SC, it's a free web-font available in Google Fonts, I'm using it for the titles on my blog.

This font for a poster, I would create an invite for a crafts and handmade products fair, in a vintage style :-)
Couldn't possibly pick just one, but for a bold poster font, I like ITC Kabel, nice & bold with some curvy personality. It would be great used on a poster for a new coffee brew.
I don't know... call me old fashioned, but Helvetica is my personal favorite and a solid choice. The theme? Anything you can name: seminars, lectures, parties and rock concerts. Go Helvetica!
I love all of Jessica's classes and this one looks great! I must admit that font/type is one of my weaknesses. My favorite font to use is Century Gothic. I have not done any designs where I had to use a font in a large size so I am not sure if it scales well. I am a sans serif font lover. I would probably use Century Gothic to make a birthday poster for one of my kids.
Good morning lovers! Just wanted to let you know comments are no closed for the giveaway and winners will be announced shortly! Thank you all so much for making this a fun and incredible giveaway! xo
Winners are:

1.) @iamhifi
2.) @bastaldo

Thank you all so much for participating, I've really enjoyed viewing your favorite fonts, downloading 100's more, and finding new companies like Lost Type! Please feel free to keep the conversation going, and continue to share your favorite fonts! I'll compile a list of the fonts mentioned for those who are interested!
My favorite font is Medusa. I love the Art nouveau feel of it. I would use it in many ways.
Hey all you font junkies! You might love this post we just did with an infographic on Typography / Fonts... check it out!

- Molly
Community Curator
Pick a favorite font??? ARE YOU CRAZY?!
I do graphic design (and yes, posters as well) and my favorite font changes daily!

I really have been using a simple, readily available font called SF Movie Poster a LOT, so maybe thats my current favorite. With this font I would create a vintage-style, typography heavy poster.. Maybe like a 40's print ad.
Great designs.

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