Poster design case study: Sofar Sounds

I recently had the opportunity to design a gig poster for Sofar Sounds Chicago. Sofar concerts are a one-of-a-kind experience consisting of three separate performers. The lineup is kept secret until attendees arrive at the show, and audience members sit on the floor of an unconventional venue with beverages and blankets they brought from home.

In this design I wanted to convey the uniquely casual and intimate setting of a Sofar show, while also imbibing the aesthetic with the feeling of Chicago summer, a sweet and fleeting season. In late June, this particular show took place when Chicago basks in extra hours of daylight, with peachy, lingering evening horizons, and the inhabitants of the city are fully embracing busy summer schedules, renewed energy, and appetites for fun and activity.

illustration of people sitting by caitlin hottinger

Prior to designing, I brushed up on some techniques and principals that are effective for poster design by watching a Skillshare class by Ellen Lupton called Demystifying Graphic Design: How Posters Work. There were two takeaways in particular from this course that I applied to this composition: activating the diagonal and focusing the eye.

Ellen Lupton explained that incorporating a strong diagonal line elevates the dynamism of a poster by challenging the confines of the given rectangle, and implying movement that transcends the page. She also emphasized the importance of eliminating unnecessary elements and having a clear focal point (or a clear lack of one). In this design, I arranged the illustrations diagonally, on either side of the lineup information. Thus they draw you into the focal point of the page while leading your eye dynamically across it.

Overall, it was a fun challenge to create this summery gig poster for a special kind of concert. By incorporating illustration and visual design principals of simplification, overlap, and focal point, the poster was a quick and valuable design exercise for me that hopefully inspired and informed those that attended the show.

© Caitlin Hottinger 2020. All Rights Reserved.