Creative Block? 5 Ways to Experiment With Your Posters

Ah, the beginning of a new year. A time for promising yourself to make more art, to experiment, and to branch out. Yet when it comes to actually keeping New Year’s resolutions, we often need an extra push to keep us on our track. 

To get your creative juices flowing in 2023, here are 5 fun ideas to inspire and motivate you.

  1. Parody an existing poster, ad, or book cover.
    This one seems simple: you find an artwork you like and you do your best to reinterpret it with a different subject matter. But parody is more than mere imitation — it’s imitation with a twist. A spoof works best if there’s an ironic disconnect between the subject and the style, or between the parody and the original… for example, The Mitchells vs The Machines is reimagined as a Parasite-like thriller and Phantom Thread as a romantic comedy.

Left: Jake Doyle (; right: keithgdesigns 

  1. Experiment with media.
    Variety as a spice of life. All creators, understandably, have preferred tools of the trade, but it’s a good idea to put them away every once in a while. If you’re a digital artist, try something more hands-on — paper collage, clay sculptures, or maybe simply pen and ink. Conversely, if you typically go for traditional media, crank Photoshop or Illustrator open and play around with the software’s capabilities. Since you’ll be working in a largely unfamiliar medium, it’s best to treat this idea with an open mind, as an exercise in self-expression and exploration.  

Left: Sister Hyde; right: Clay Disarray

  1. Harken back to an old style.
    “There is no new fashion that has not been old,” says Geoffrey Chaucer in The Knight’s Tale. Let the days of yore breathe new life into your work! Be it art nouveau or dada, there’s probably a vintage style that you really enjoy. So do some research, crank out a moodboard, and travel back in time (artistically). For example, my love for midcentury matchbox labels inspired the forms and colors of this Resident Evil 2 piece:
  1. Make a type-only design.
    If a picture is worth a thousand words, does that mean a picture of words is worth a million? Type-heavy posters typically let concept and composition do the heavy lifting, which results in clean, eye-catching designs. Take a look at our previous articles to pick up simple lettering tips and get some ideas for type-heavy poster compositions.

Left: Tiernandesign; right: trickartt

  1. Rework a photo into a poster.

Comb your photo library for a landscape, street scene, or still life that speaks to you. Play off the cultural associations that it conjures and see where the mood and subject of the snapshot take you! 

I decided to try this out myself and edited a photo of Mancunian architecture into a (probably anachronistic) tribute to Anton Corbijn’s Control. Did it turn out well? I’m not sure, but the idea did get me making something new, which was the whole point. 

I hope you will also turn to these exercises when stumped for inspiration. Happy creating!

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