The Power of a Great Theater Poster

Every year around this time theaters begin to work on promoting their next season. You’ve just been handed a list of plays and somehow you have to get a brochure out within a couple months. The current season is in full swing so you have a hard time getting the artistic director’s attention. You might start googling to see what other theaters have done (yes—we’ve all done this). You start working with an artist—knowing things are probably going to change. Plays get cancelled. New ones get added. Somehow you get through the process and finish just in time to get the season brochure out the door.

But does the final art really get people excited?

Creating a piece of art (a poster) to represent another piece of art (a play) is hard. I’m using the term “poster” loosely. You may never print an actual poster—but you do need a representation of the play that creates a spark. There are a million opinions out there on what works. And you’ll have to take some of them into account as you go through the process. But as you try to address everyone’s opinion it’s very easy to lose sight of the big picture—creating a piece of art that actually makes a difference and helps you sell tickets.

Here are 7 tips to help make your next poster awesome!

  • Demand attention. Be bold in your interpretation of the work. Poster design is not for the faint of heart.
  • Evoke an emotion. People go to the theater to be moved. Expressive artwork can help convey that emotion. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. Neatness doesn’t count.
  • Find new twists for old clichés. Clichés done the same old way are just that…clichés. But clichés with a new twist can be powerful.
  • Interpret and simplify. If you try to recreate moments that actually happen onstage you’ll probably come up short. The simplest solutions are usually the most memorable.
  • Use type wisely. There’s a whole world of expressive fonts. Used skillfully they can add a lot of emotion and meaning (used unskillfully this can backfire dramatically).
  • Make a statement about your brand. It’s not just about the play—a sophisticated poster speaks volumes about the quality and artistry of your company.

We at Oberlander Group are passionate about theater. We love taking complex subjects and distilling them down to simple, beautiful solutions. We’re fast, affordable and fun to work with.

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Oberlander Group has been helping clients deliver their message with award-winning design and communications for 25 years by creating websites, printed communications, advertising (print, digital, electronic) and identity programs. For more information visit or contact John Oberlander at 518-720-0050 x222 or