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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

Know What a Poster is? Want to Make One?

Teresa Sdralevich is a designer, illustrator and author with solid experience leading workshops. She is a regular guest at design schools, museums and festivals across Europe. Working languages: English, French, Italian and Dutch. She’s just published what I think is the best activity book for children, on how to make posters, titled Poster Power! Great Posters & How to Make Them (Cicada Books). I asked her to draw us a thumbnail of what the book offers, and why.

What inspired you to do this activity book for kids? A couple of years ago I had an exhibition of my posters in a cultural center in Belgium. I knew that many classes of children from 6–15 would visit it, so I thought that it would be nice to write a guide to give them a key for looking; by adding a few activities related to my posters, I thought they would look at posters under a different angle. I drew this booklet in a few days, with no plan nor drafts, and gave in the pile of A5 directly for photocopying. On the spot I had also set up a D.I.Y. workshop with cutouts and letters that was at the teachers’ disposal. The core of the book was there.

Have you tested this out on real children? I have led dozens of workshops related to all aspects of my daily work: posters (mainly focusing on political issues), covers, illustration, books … so I am pretty sure that the activities in Poster Power! will work very well. By the way, I think that they can be carried out with profit at all ages; out of experience, adults will only need more time.

Although it is definitely a friendly book, it also has some controversial posters as examples. What went into your decision on what to choose? My visual memory is packed with posters, so the difficult part was letting a lot of them out; I don’t see any controversial posters, but only texts and images that make people think—adults and children alike.

You must have had fun doing the book. It looks that way. What was the biggest pleasure? The biggest pleasure was drawing the pages; I cannot express it otherwise, because I treated pictures and typography as equals. Some fonts come from my old Letraset catalogues and transfer sheets, some are made up, some are inspired by things I saw.

With loud music, a beautiful studio, the ideal black markers, cheap paper cut at the right size and a smart publisher behind—one can only have fun!

The silver medal goes to the thrill of receiving the files of works I cherish, on top of them all Hans Hillman’s film poster for Storm Over Asia (1961).

What is the most common question that a child asks you about posters? I have a bad memory, so I can’t recall—a recurrent question probably is, “[what] is the difference between advertising and what you do?” In spite of being so passionate about posters, during a workshop the most important thing is what we are communicating, so there would be discussions and questions on the subject—would it be “Work” or “Buy Nothing Day” or “I protest …” Controversial subjects.

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