“Posters are a perfect cross-section of everything graphic design. For an application that only involves merely text and image, it has the potential for so much more,” says Sydney-based designer Jack Forrest. “By sticking to the poster format, you create a degree of consistency that can frame different styles of image-making, typography and layout without being too jarring.”
Forrest began his ongoing poster project on Instagram last March when the pandemic’s impact on the world was just starting to be felt. “Covid-19 saw me spending more and more time sitting around at home. At the same time, I was going into my final year of university and I was looking for ways to improve my portfolio and start creating a point of difference for myself as I began searching for my first full-time design gig,” he explains. “Ultimately, I was just looking for a way to grow and improve as a designer. I wanted to try making something (almost) every single day and fingers crossed after a couple months, these things would look better than they did when I started.”
The designer switches between styles depending on the poster but they have a clean, simple approach which unites them. Forrest tends to put an emphasis on the typographical elements, which are then combined with found photography or one of Forrest’s own illustrations. “The best way I’ve thought to describe it is as aligning big letters with pretty pictures,” he says. “I try to make the posters colourful, engaging and fun with a consistent consideration of alignment and overall compositional balance.”
Forrest shares his posters on Instagram and he sees the other design work shared on the platform as both an inspiration and a drive to improve. “Instagram has a really strong and friendly design community which when paired with the platform’s massive potential for exposure, makes it the only real option,” he says on why he published the project there. “Instagram is used by a billion people all over the world, allowing exposure and feedback from a much wider sample of society, which is what design is all about.”
Finding the time to make something every day has been Forrest’s biggest challenge throughout the project so he’s become adept at designing on the go. “It’s become a matter of making the most of otherwise useless time; like the train ride into work or gaps in the day,” he says. “Otherwise, the main struggle is keeping the work fresh and stopping yourself from repeating the exact same formula over and over. Anyone can find a formula that works and then use that same template repeatedly but then your audience will begin to lose interest as they know what to expect.”
By shifting between the use of photography, illustration and animation in his posters, it keeps things fresh both for the viewer and Forrest. “Ultimately, it’s a matter of exploring the different styles of work that I enjoy and then (hopefully) the quality and interest will follow – it’s a personal project after all, if I didn’t truly enjoy doing this work, I’d never be able to maintain it,” he says.
Forrest got into design initially by watching Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials on YouTube. “It was by watching and following these tutorials that I slowly gained an introduction into the Adobe Creative Suite and the infinite potential for creating anything and everything,” he explains.
“Once I had a handle on how to use the more fundamental features of these programs, I loved (and still love) spending time experimenting with the different niche tools and functions to just see what happened and if it looked fun or interesting. This led to me studying a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication at the University of Technology Sydney from which I’ve freshly graduated.”
Becoming part of the Instagram design community has been the biggest highlight for Forrest with this project, as well as connecting with people all over the world. “I love that design is a universal language. Graphic design is something that everyone can (and does) have an opinion on regardless of their dialect, cultural background or profession,” he says.
“And while most projects are designed with a certain audience or target market in mind, the visual nature, and therefore shareability, of design means that it’ll never be exposed to that audience and that audience alone. I really enjoy knowing that great design has the potential to make people all over the world happy, even if only for a moment.”