Research and Art Direction

I am learning the process of art direction, which has turned out to include a ton of research. I was given the task to create a poster for an event, one that includes information, and not just purely an artistic or illustrative depiction.

Beginning with what inspires me, I jotted down a few basic concepts. Beginning with Japanese related things, such as Japanese festivals, Japanese in Arizona … I realized I was focusing on a bigger political issue at hand. I hadn’t made the connection yet to the political and social climate we’re experiencing today, but I was developing a stronger and stronger distaste for something we had done as a nation some 75 years ago.

After talking through the concept with my design team, my design lead mentioned that I should try connecting the event of those many years ago with something we’re experiencing today in the U.S. I decided to create a human rights poster.

Realizing what I wanted to do was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I pushed for it anyways. I wanted to challenge myself as a person and as a designer. So here we go.

Through this process, I’ve realized how cowardly I am as a person (and citizen), as well as realizing the pain in design, saying what you want to say but knowing it may not be the best design solution.

Painful struggle.

Through the struggle, I want to push on in hopes my knowledge of the world will turn to action, and my skills as a designer will be sharpened—even if a little at a time.

My basic process:

  • Research topics of interest
  • Brainstorm
  • Hone in on topic and gather supporting evidence, quotes, resources, talk to people who have a deeper understanding of the topic or similar topics
  • Brainstorm again, draw up many sketches and layouts
  • Typography research (I used
  • Pick best quotes and most powerful facts
  • Start designing
  • Critique from team, help from copy writer
  • Keep designing and refining
  • Critique from team and copy refinement
  • Final design (or repeat last couple of steps until ready)

Brainstorming sketches:


Layouts and revisions:

poster-versions-previewOnce I get to that “Final Design” step in my process, I’ll make sure to share with you here. Thanks for reading. –R

Author: Miniature Ray


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