Geoff White Interview and Poster Tutorial

Here is the transcript from the section describing the design of the John Miles poster:

From October 2008 until November 2009 I was asked to design posters to publicise the Talking Graphics lectures. The posters reflected the individual themes of the speakers but also work stylistically as a related series.

John Miles poster
Here you see the completed poster of the example we are about to recreate stage by stage. I will explain how I made each decision.

Enlarging the poster
So that you can see more clearly we’ll enlarge the poster and look at the poster section by section. Here you see the main part with all the graphic components we will be working with.

Now we focus in further until we arrive at the very first decision – which is the surname of the speaker John Miles. Note that the surname is tightly letterspaced but that the letters are not touching. When setting type large you can often afford to set the type quite tightly.

John Miles
Here we see the first name ‘John’ the same size as ‘Miles overlaying the surname. I have coloured it a transparent blue. John is positioned so that the vertical stroke of the ‘J’ aligns with the vertical of the lowercase ‘i’. The baseline of ‘John’ aligns with the x-height of Miles.

John Miles plus colour
A block of colour with a gradient applied is added above ‘John’ aligning with the cap height. Another block is added below Miles aligning with the baseline.

Colour bands
Two further colour bands are added. One colour band is to the x-height of ‘Miles’ and the other to the cap height of John. I have left the white ‘shining’ behind ‘John.

Introductory text
A large block of introductory text is added. The baseline of the last line aligns with the baseline of ‘John’. The type runs up from this point. The left edge of the type aligns with the ‘h’ of ‘John’. Within the text I have highlighted the date and time as important information.

Adding the small blocks of type
Next we move down the poster and towards the centre.

First block
First we add a small block of text to the left of the main body of text. The first baseline aligns through with the baseline of the large type next to it. The small text aligns left with the vertical of the ‘J’ of ‘John’.

Second block
A second small block of text is added. The baselines align through with the first block. I have overlapped the first three lines of the second block with the last three lines of the first block. This creates a satisfying step and allows for the small type to seemingly wrap around the large type without touching it. The type aligns left with the ‘M’ of Miles.

Third block
The third small block of type is added underneath ‘Miles’. The type aligns left with the ‘h’ of ‘John’. The space between the type and the baseline of ‘Miles’ above is visually the same as the space between the first small block and the cap height of the ‘J’ of ‘John’. You can see this demonstrated by the two small red squares.

Fourth block
A fourth and final small block of type is added to the right. The baselines align through with the third block. Again I have overlapped the last three lines of this block with the first three lines of the block to the right. The left side of the fourth block aligns vertically with the second downstroke of the ‘n’ of ‘John’.

Three vertical rules
I’ve added three vertical rules in progressively heavier weights. This is to emphasise the reading direction of the type as they appear to move from the background to the foreground. I have coloured them white to add contrast.

Top of the poster
We now move to the top of the poster. We are going to add the series title. First the word ‘Talking’. Then ‘Graphics’. The vertical of the ‘h’ of ‘Graphics’ aligns through with the vertical of the ‘T’ of ‘Talking’. This sets up a strong vertical alignment with the ‘J’ of ‘John’. ‘A series of’ is added next to ‘Graphics’. The baselines align through. The second line is added underneath aligning left with ‘h’ of ‘Graphics’. As does the third line. The notion of type stepping and wrapping is reflecting the design approach of the type below.

Key alignment points
We now reduce the poster down in size so that we see the main area of typographic design again. The red lines show you those key alignment points again.

Eight of the series
And here are eight of the series to finish with.