Key Steps in Illustration: Museum Posters, Pt. 1

I was very excited to start with this new exercise, and I’m hoping to take a lot from it. The assignment says to create three visuals and one final design for museum posters for different age groups. It should promote the same museum but highlight different aspects depending on the age group (children, teens, and general audience). It could be a series, but also totally independent posters.

On my way to work I usually pass by quite a lot of posters that promote museums, posters, and other events happening throughout the city, and I always enjoy the ones that are somewhat special, and whose style can be recognized, even if they use a different topic. This is what I’m aiming to create in this exercise.

First, I researched some museums in Munich, and how they communicate with different audiences in terms of languages, and also visuals.

I then looked at a variety of (museum) posters from different countries and types of museums, and made a kind of moodboard of the ones I enjoy most.

Musuem Posters examples can be found here or here. I found that the majority will either represent the subject simply with a photo, or visualize them graphically/abstractly. Some styles I quite like are these examplese here: URL, URL  and URL. I like the simplicity yet complexity with different elements and the combination of styles, e.g. mixing photography and geographic elements. The majority of examples leaves the poster’s motif enough white space to attract the viewer’s attention.

My idea of posters is not to overload them with too many details, but they should be visually intriguing. People need to recognize the topic and the most important information from far away. Ideally they already get some details on where to find out more, e.g. the website. So I find one of the most important criteria for posters is to leave enough white space to allow the topic to “breath”, be presented in high-quality and leave enough space for the key facts (like location, website, topic, event name, etc.)

Then it was time to decide upon my own subject. Since spring is just starting, I went for an “outdoor” museum: Munich Botanical Gardens. It is basically a botanical garden where you see all kinds of plants, trees, animals that are typically found in Bavaria. They also offer some more “exotic” species, like cacti and exotic butterlies in winter.

During my visit I gathered a great variety of visual references on what people can see there. Here are just a few highlights that include the “insects” homes, blooming flowers, the cacti house, and examples of bird signs that can be seen there – I was not lucky enough to capture them on my own photos.

I went along and sketched a few ideas of topics I had that would be interesting to focus on: Bees, Birds, and Butterflies. At this time, I had not decided which topic would be for which audience yet. I assume, in real-life scenarios, this would have already decided by a Marketing team that would write the brief.

In my sketchbook I worked out which audience might be most interested in each topic, and after having changed my mind some times, I agreed on the following:

  • Kids > Butterflies
  • Teens > Bees
  • General > Birds

I then worked out some ideas for compositions on the poster. Since museum posters are usually portrait format, I only worked on ideas for this format. I played aound with including only the subject, and then also introduce a character at some stages. I decided, however, that a character would be best for the kids only. My idea was to use one style for all posters that would be somewhat recognizable, so you can identify all of the posters belonging to one museum.

kat-illustrates-museum-posters-sketchbook (9)
Museum Posters: Sketchbook – ideas for compositions

kat-illustrates-museum-posters-sketchbook (10)kat-illustrates-museum-posters-sketchbook (11)

kat-illustrates-museum-posters-sketchbook (17)
Museum Posters: Sketchbook – ideas for compositions



  • Flickr. Guilherme Lepca. “Cartaz Editora Abril”. Published on July 2, 2008. URL
  • Google Search. “semana de incentivo a literatura poster”.  “URL  and URL
  • Google Search. “Museum Poster”. URL and URL 
  • The British Museum Website. URL
  • Deutsches Museum Website. URL
  • MoMA Museum Website. URL
  • Munich Botanical Garden Website. URL

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