What Do Poster Designers Do? 2024 Career Guide (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what poster design is and how to work as a poster designer. Discover the necessary skills, qualifications, types of employment, and salary.

What Do Poster Designers Do? 2024 Career Guide (1)

Poster designers design and print artistic posters for musicians, concert promoters, bands, brewery owners, and others looking for ways to share information with customers.

A poster designer can also work for graphic design firms or government agencies under different titles like production artist, graphic artist, and illustrator.

A career in poster design involves skills that overlap with sales, marketing, art, and publishing. In this role, you must be organized, creative, and able to attract your target audience.

What do poster designers do?

Poster designers’s day-to-day work may include:

  • Meeting with clients to learn details of upcoming events

  • Creating artwork to meet the needs of clients

  • Advertising their art through social media

  • Coordinating screen printing

  • Shipping printed posters to clients sometimes within tight deadlines

  • Creating digital versions for online advertising

  • Pitching partnerships with local festivals, bands, breweries, concert promoters, and more

History of poster design

In the mid-19th century, executives in the music and entertainment industry commissioned artists to produce eye-catching posters to advertise upcoming events. They would print the posters using the newly invented three-tone lithographic process and use glue to hang them in public spaces like walls throughout cities.

Aspiring poster designers may be familiar with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and his famous work advertising the Moulin Rouge in the late 1800s. With time, this art nouveau poster design style transitioned to art deco, and later, with the advent of American rock and roll, pop, and psychedelic art.

Is poster design the same as graphic design?

Poster design is a type of graphic design. Poster artists utilize graphic design and usually have more flexibility and freedom beyond traditional marketing methods. The current focus on digital advertising offers opportunities for interactivity and dynamic designs that could transform poster art in new ways.

Here are some similarities between poster design and graphic design:

1. Both graphic and poster artists must consider the goal in their design.

2. Designs must connect with the target audience.

3. Colors, images, font, and format must echo the client’s brand.

4. Graphic design best practices, such as visual hierarchy, high-resolution images, and proper alignment, can also ensure pleasing aesthetics.

Read more: Graphic Artist vs. Graphic Designer: Understanding the Difference

Iconic poster designs

During World War II, the government commissioned artists to make propaganda posters like the famous Rosie the Riveter. In the 1960s, psychedelic rock bands like The Grateful Dead employed artists to share their vibe with music lovers with some unforgettable posters. In the 1980s, Neon Noir and Neo-Art Deco styles took over poster design.

What Do Poster Designers Do? 2024 Career Guide (3)

Essential skills for a poster designer

To work as a poster designer, you’ll need technical and creative skills to be successful. Many of the technical skills are compatible with graphic design.


Font styles are crucial elements of poster design. When designing a poster, some best practices include using complementary serif and sans serif fonts with the exception of the title, which can be a creative font. You can find examples with an internet search and on Canva and Adobe InDesign.

The font choices should be balanced, eye-pleasing, and easy to read. Canva offers templates with set typography that you may use for your work.


A color wheel is a helpful tool that helps poster designers choose colors to create a focal point. The four color schemes are:

  • Monochromatic: Shades of a single color

  • Analogous: Colors combinations that are next to each other on the color wheel

  • Complementary: Colors opposite each other on the color wheel

  • Split complementary: Equidistant hues on the color wheel

Visual hierarchy

The arrangement of the elements arrangement for poster presentation is known as the hierarchy. Everything from negative space and font spacing to color and contrast helps a poster be appealing to the viewer.

Creative flair

Poster designers apply different styles and designs through inspiration from past work or new ideas. As a poster designer, you’ll need to be creative since clients may want to see a few concepts before moving forward with a poster.

Mastery of different artistic media

A poster designer may work with markers, paint, paper, canvas, or computer software tools like Adobe Creative Cloud and Canva to design. Whichever medium you choose, you’ll need to be able to produce the client’s designs.

Here are some common graphic design tools:

  • Procreate

  • Adobe Express

  • Canva

  • Figma


While poster design differs from graphic design, good poster artists incorporate graphic design principles. This includes understanding color palettes, typography and font pairing, and balancing images, copy, and white space on the poster. While the music industry often leans toward nontraditional art, conveying a message to a target audience is still important.

Knowledge of screen printing

Professional poster designers often work with digital printing companies to make copies of posters for clients. However, music posters use screen printing technology to reproduce them. Understanding how it works (including the kinds of paper and ink used) will make it easier to work effectively within deadlines.

Ability to collaborate

Poster designers tend to work alone during the creation process. However, you’ll also need to network with prospective clients, collaborate with musicians, and connect with concert promoters. You need to communicate your visions clearly, schedule meetings, and sometimes change directions according to the client’s needs.

Ability to work independently

Most professional poster designers are often self-employed. You’ll be responsible for producing artwork and marketing your skills. It’s essential to double-check your work and learn new techniques to keep your art within the trends. You’ll need to quote a price for your time, invoice clients, and maintain financial records for tax purposes. Strong organizational skills and discipline will help keep you on track.

Qualifications needed to become a poster designer

Unlike graphic designers at publishing or marketing companies, poster designers typically work independently and don’t need a formal degree to break into the industry.

Instead, the qualifications to become a poster artist follow an artist’s career path. Poster designers typically build a branding recognition and fan base, pitch work to artists or concert promoters, and gain more prominent clients that pay more over time.

Having an active social media account and website to display your portfolio may be a good idea. Including a mood board in your portfolio can also show cohesiveness with fonts, images, patterns, textures, and color. Portfolios are a great way to showcase your artwork to future employers.

What jobs are available?

Many jobs involve creating posters for specific events in the music and entertainment industry. It can be a single assignment or a series, based on your portfolio, expertise, and partnership with your client. You can find some jobs with marketing graphic design firms, advertising agencies, and in the government. Other jobs may include designs for:

  • Events held at independent breweries

  • Music festival announcements

  • Record store events

  • School and sports posters and banners

How much do poster designers make?

Poster designers in the US earn an average base salary of $42,340 per year, according to Glassdoor [1].

As you gain experience and connections within the industry, you may work with musicians and promoters with larger budgets and bigger exposure. This will allow you to earn more over time.

Career development opportunities

To begin a career as a poster designer, you’ll need to be comfortable with the basic tools and demands within the industry you’re working. An online course can help you practice and hone art skills as you build a portfolio. Coursera Project Network offers a guided course on Designing a Music Festival Poster on Adobe Illustrator that can get you started.

Get started

To work as a poster designer, you’ll need graphic design skills to help companies convey their message to target audiences. Get started with the Graphic Design Specialization course offered by the California Institute of the Arts, a beginner program that you can typically complete in six months. Or consider the Fundamentals of Graphic Design course, which exposes you to the basic principles of graphic design, and learn techniques for designing posters.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

About Me

I am an expert in various fields, including computer science, design, and product development. I have a deep understanding of these topics and can provide valuable insights and information. My expertise is demonstrated through my ability to analyze and interpret complex information, as well as my capacity to engage in detailed discussions on a wide range of subjects.

Computer Science and Engineering

Computer science and engineering is a diverse field that encompasses the study of computer systems, software development, and the application of engineering principles to the design and development of computer hardware and software. It involves a deep understanding of algorithms, data structures, programming languages, and the theoretical foundations of computing. Additionally, computer science and engineering play a crucial role in the advancement of technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity.

Design and Product

Design and product development are essential components of creating innovative and user-friendly products. This field involves the application of design principles, user experience (UX) design, and product management to develop products that meet the needs and preferences of users. It also encompasses the use of design thinking, prototyping, and iterative development processes to create successful products that resonate with consumers.

Poster Designers

Poster designers play a vital role in creating artistic and informative posters for various purposes, including advertising events, promoting music, and conveying messages to target audiences. They require a combination of technical and creative skills, including proficiency in typography, color theory, visual hierarchy, and mastery of artistic media. Poster designers often work independently and may collaborate with clients, musicians, and concert promoters to create compelling visual content.

What Do Poster Designers Do?

Poster designers are responsible for creating artistic posters for a wide range of clients, including musicians, concert promoters, bands, and brewery owners. Their day-to-day activities may include meeting with clients to understand event details, creating artwork, advertising their art through social media, coordinating screen printing, and shipping printed posters to clients. They also need to be organized, creative, and able to attract their target audience.

History of Poster Design

The history of poster design dates back to the mid-19th century when artists were commissioned to produce eye-catching posters to advertise upcoming events in the music and entertainment industry. Over time, poster design styles transitioned from art nouveau to art deco, and later, with the advent of American rock and roll, pop, and psychedelic art.

Is Poster Design the Same as Graphic Design?

Poster design is a type of graphic design that offers more flexibility and freedom beyond traditional marketing methods. Both graphic and poster artists must consider the goal in their design, connect with the target audience, and ensure that colors, images, font, and format echo the client’s brand. Poster design incorporates graphic design principles and offers opportunities for interactivity and dynamic designs in digital advertising.

Essential Skills for a Poster Designer

To work as a poster designer, one needs technical and creative skills, including proficiency in typography, color theory, visual hierarchy, mastery of artistic media, understanding of screen printing, ability to collaborate, and work independently. While formal qualifications are not always necessary, building a strong portfolio and active social media presence can be beneficial for aspiring poster designers.

Jobs and Salary

Poster designers can find job opportunities in the music and entertainment industry, marketing graphic design firms, advertising agencies, and government agencies. The average base salary for poster designers in the US is $42,340 per year, with potential for higher earnings as they gain experience and work with clients with larger budgets and bigger exposure.

Career Development Opportunities

Aspiring poster designers can enhance their skills and knowledge through online courses, such as the Designing a Music Festival Poster on Adobe Illustrator offered by Coursera Project Network. Additionally, programs like the Graphic Design Specialization course and the Fundamentals of Graphic Design course can provide a solid foundation for individuals looking to pursue a career in poster design.

In conclusion, poster design is a dynamic and creative field that requires a combination of technical expertise and artistic flair. Aspiring poster designers can explore various opportunities to develop their skills and build a successful career in this exciting industry.

What Do Poster Designers Do? 2024 Career Guide (2024)


What Do Poster Designers Do? 2024 Career Guide? ›

Creating artwork to meet the needs of clients. Advertising their art through social media. Coordinating screen printing. Shipping printed posters to clients sometimes within tight deadlines.

Is graphic design a good career for 2024? ›

Combine your interest in artistic expression with your ability to use technology to pursue success in a graphic design career. You may wonder if this popular field is still an excellent path to pursue in 2024. The answer is yes.

What skills do graphic designers need in 2024? ›

Essential graphic design skills encompass creativity, communication, typography, and innovation, crucial across industries. Effective time management, organization, and problem-solving are pivotal for graphic designers to meet diverse client demands.

What is the career path of a graphic designer? ›

A career in graphic design often starts with entry-level positions, allowing designers to build a portfolio and gradually move to more crucial roles. While a degree in graphic design isn't a requirement, it can offer a competitive edge. Some professionals suggest self-learning requires significant time and discipline.

What is the job outlook for graphic designers in the next 10 years? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 22,800 openings for graphic designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

How will graphic design grow in the next 5 to 10 years? ›

In the next five years, designers will increasingly focus on creating immersive designs that engage users and provide a memorable experience. These designs will incorporate elements like motion graphics, 3D animation, and virtual reality (VR) to create a more engaging and interactive experience.

Which designer has highest salary? ›

11 Highest Paid Design Jobs (2023 Career Guide)
  • Creative Director. Median salary according to Salary.com: $139,188 per year. ...
  • Art Director. StockVault. ...
  • Graphic Design Manager. ...
  • User Experience Designer. ...
  • Senior Designer. ...
  • Video Game Designer. ...
  • User Interface Designer. ...
  • Architect.
Jan 13, 2023

Which type of graphic design is most in-demand in 2024? ›

Motion graphics designers are most in-demand at AI companies, the entertainment industry, startups, marketing firms, and creative agencies, digital journalism organizations, e-commerce platforms, and the automotive industry.

Is graphic design a future proof career? ›

Ans. Graphic design is the future proof and it remains a stable career path with steady demand. As visual communication and marketing grow more crucial and technologies evolve, graphic designers adept at adapting their skills will thrive. Creativity and vision still set exceptional work apart.

How to be a graphic designer in 2024? ›

16 best ways to get a graphic design job in 2024:
  1. Pursue a formal education.
  2. Develop a strong basic skill set.
  3. Specialize in a design area.
  4. Get certified.
  5. Build a robust portfolio.
  6. Enhance your online presence.
  7. Volunteer your design skills.
  8. Gain practical experience through internships.

Who is above a graphic designer? ›

Continuing Onward: Creative Director

Although the track for a Graphic Designer stops at an Art Director, there are still higher positions to achieve that may come from a different background. The Creative Director works as a whole to oversee the entire creative department and experience.

What is the most common job for a graphic designer? ›

The graphic design field offers many job opportunities in a variety of settings. You can work as a web designer, illustrator, animator, or product developer and use your graphic design skills to be a creative director, production artist, art director, marketing specialist, or brand designer.

Do graphic designers make a good living? ›

What's the Average Salary of a Graphic Designer? The salary for a Graphic Designer is $50,710 per year. However, salaries can range from around $30,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on the factors mentioned above.

Can I make a 100k as graphic designer? ›

Reaching $100k in graphic design is not easy. But it is possible to reach through expertise, experience, work ethic and business skills. Making a 6-figure income as a graphic designer is definitely possible, but it usually requires reaching an elite level in your skills, experience, clients, and business approach.

Will AI replace graphic designers? ›

AI isn't going to replace graphic designers but what it can do is complement and enrich their work. And it's already begun.

What's a typical day for a graphic designer? ›

Graphic Designer Daily Functions and Responsibilities

Meets with clients or team members to discuss project goals. Communicate with team members and collaborate on creative ideas. Develop content such as graphics, web pages, logos, advertisem*nts, or brochures.

Is there a future for graphic design careers? ›

Graphic Designers have scope of working in various industries such as the fashion business, IT, gaming, advertising, news media, and entertainment, among others. The graduates can work as Multimedia Programmers, Creative Directors, and so on.

Do graphic designers have a future? ›

There are design needs across every industry, so Graphic Designers have many opportunities to take on a range of new and exciting projects. It can also be a very fulfilling career, as Graphic Designers can see the real-world impact of their work.

Will there still be a need for graphic designers in the future? ›

Companies need graphic designers and there will be jobs for the foreseeable future, but there are far more people applying to jobs than the amount of jobs available. I think trying to even get your portfolio looked at is a challenge when hundreds to thousands of people are applying to one job.

Does graphic design have a good future? ›

In today's technical and creative world, the employment outlook for graphic designers is promising. For those who are new to the field, this is encouraging news. Every company nowadays needs a dedicated graphic designer or design team despite the intense competition.


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