As I mentioned in my previous post, all participants are to output an academic poster. The students will be producing posters that document their project concept and research processes, while the staff are producing a document that documents the planning, running and conclusions of such an intensive collaborative project to be used as a basis to support a forthcoming research paper on the project.
As the designer for the group, it fell to me to actually create the poster. I also contributed to the poster’s content. Here is what I came up with:
What I want to highlight for this particular process is that producing an academic poster that meets the criteria of what an academic poster should be, whilst trying to make it look visually interesting is a tall challenge. The challenge actually comes from two opposing angles. Firstly, a poster has to communicate your research using a visual medium. If the nature of work is academic research, finding visual representation sometimes isn’t easy. Secondly, the educational area that tends to produce the most academic posters is STEM subjects. By their very nature they are scientists, not artists. To this end I’ve seen my fair share of terribly designed and produced posters!
Anyway, for the co_LAB poster, it was a challenge because, aside from the heartwarming photographs of students engaging in their research and development, the logo and the icons from the call to action promotional material, there really ins’t a lot to get inspired with. You’ve got to make the text look as interesting as possible.
There is still far too much text for an academic poster – but it is was all totally required to even come close to describe what our project was all about. The poster’s saving grace is that the big chunks of text are separated by visual objects. I tried to ensure that never more than 2 paragraphs of text before something visually rewarding/distracting was offered.
I employed the same approach when I was tasked with creating a poster to describe very similar subject for the Media Culture 2020 Project:
Again I balanced out the text with as many relevant visual objects as possible. The balance of text to visuals is better in this than in the co_LAB poster but there were plenty of impactful visual elements to hand when creating this one.
Academic poster design is one area where scientists and engineers should team up with designers in order to strike the perfect balance between form and function.