39—Grab people’s eye.

Easier said than done? Yeah, you’re probably right. But it isn’t so hard as you think. The fact is, unless the person is walking around with their eyes closed (or is blind) they will at least see your work, now you just need to make them look at it.

Seeing a graphic is like vaguely hearing a conversation. Looking at it is like listening intently. So what makes the difference? Well, what makes you stop hearing and start listening?

Think back to being in class. At some point during school, you’ve gotten distracted in class—you phased out and kept hearing the teacher, but stopped listening. Then what happened? Mrs. Murphy mentioned a deadline, grade, or “that this will be on the test.” That perked your right up. That got your attention. Why? Because it could impact your life.

So how do you do that with your designs? Well, it actually starts before the design—it starts with the writing (or copy writing). If your poster is to advertise for a hip-hop concert, only hip-hop fans will attend, no matter how good your poster is, so cut to the chase: “Free Hip Hop Concert” is your headline.

If your design is a business card, then your name is the most important thing—that way, the people you give the card to will be able to easily find you in their stack of papers. My old business card, for example, was only my name. No contact information or anything—my thought was: they have my name and the internet, that is all they need. It’s hard to say if the card was a success, but I’m making new ones that fit my personal branding.

Once you know the most important, attention-grabbing part of your content: put it up front, with plenty of contrast and love. The idea is that someone should be able to see your graphic (not look) and know what it’s about. It’s like passively hearing your teaching ramble in class. Then, to people that matter, your content will be important enough to make them look.

Here’s my most recent two posters as examples:


See how I add visual intrigue with the illustrations & colors, then really spell out the topic? Nothing is hidden. It’s all right there.

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