Making an impressive show flyer, DIY style!

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flyerYou spend a lot of time making music right?  Weeks, months or even years of practicing, and now it’s time for you to premier your hard work to the world! It is as important for you to book the show in the first place as it is for you to get people through the door.

Promotion can be tough, but think about it— you wouldn’t spend hours planning a party and neglect to invite anyone… would you? One of the best ways to promote your event is through a great show flyer!

Note: You don’t have to be a brilliant artist to create a noticeable and effective show flyer. Creating a flyer that will catch people’s attention and communicate the message is much easier than you think and (for those of you old school cats) you don’t even really need a computer!

1. Start by compiling the basic information about the event. Often times, you only have the reader’s attention for a quick second, whether it’s a glimpse of a phone pole or a flash on your MySpace page, so don’t overload them with unnecessary details. List the bands involved, the date, the location, the show time and the cover charge. It can’t hurt to add a few catchy statements about the event, i.e. drink specials, record give-aways, etc.

2. Come up with a logo or an illustration. The best flyer will have some visual pop to catch the eye. This part can be the most daunting to someone who doesn’t consider themselves an “artist” per se, but here are some suggestions:

a. Find someone with drawing skills that can create a freehand illustration to add personality to a flyer. Even hand-drawn letters stand out in this age of fonts and clip art.

b. Cut out an image from a magazine or book as a central element, but add  your own spin to it.

3. Create a layout and play with the order of the lettering and design. Make sure to keep the band names large and near the top.

4. When your flyer is perfect, glue the details in place and bring it down to a local printing shop. In most cases, you can create 50 black and white pole flyers (standard size is 11 x 17) for under $5!

5. If you are going the environmentally friendly route, use a scanner at the print shop and scan the image in. Once the image is scanned in you can upload it to your MySpace or Facebook page.

Do you have a creative concert poster you’d like to share?  Post a link to it on the comments section below!

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  • Good tips! I'd add this: if you're moderately computer savvy but wishing you had professional programs like Photoshop or Illustrator, check out open-source programs like GIMP and Inkscape. They can take a little time to get the hang of, but they're powerful (and free!).

  • I would also like to add that the most important information should be very clear. Make sure that the Name of act. The time and place, the venue address and all essential information is large and easy to read. It's also a good idea to assume that a person looking at your flyer has no prior knowledge of your act. All of this seems obvious but it's amazing how often the most important info. gets left out or is written in some impossible to read font. An eye catching graphic is useless if it cannot be understood

    I remember having a flyer for a show in Austin. I thought it was a pretty good flyer but someone pointed out to me that it had no indication of what the event was. Just a picture of me playing a guitar and all the venue info. etc. I should have written a short description to help people out. The fear is that by describing what you do someone might be put off – but you don't want those people at your show anyway. You want the people who will want to hear what you are doing.

    Listen to me spouting off! Jeepers!

  • Thanks for posting this – It's very helpful, especially if you're on a limited budget! I like your idea about drawing your poster in hand to reduce costs and make it more personal, but I'd add this though: It has to be cohesive with your band image. For instance, hand-drawn flyers would not suit a futuristic electronica project. Then a better solution would probably be working with some editing software like GIMP or Inkscape like Neil mentioned.

  • We've always used Photoshop to do our flyers. We usually go to google images and search for something that we find interesting and put some kind of spin on it. Then since it's done on Photoshop we can change certain information for different cities.

    We also use photos of ourselves like in this banner.

  • our graphic designer, kristen rost, of madison, wisconsin, made us a great poster that we highlight on our myspace page even though the show is over, just because we love the art so much! so many people commented that they loved the posters that we had some printed on high quality paper and sell them at shows. they were definitely an attention-getter, and helped us to pack a very large local venue for our cd release party.

  • Great info! I'm especially into the hand drawn idea! I think the person above me who had the idea to make their fliers/posters merch is another innovative and interesting idea.

  • I found this to be true when I would let the public know about the show I had more people. Planning has to be done weeks of the show. Working with a coffee house in Ga works well for me. The mgr placed the cards on the table to be seen. Checking back a few times will tell you if the mgr or booker of the venue knows what they are doing.

  • I am a musician and a graphic designer of flyers and posters for other musicians and promoters. I always use Photoshop for the best results but it is very easy to design your flyer for free or very cheap if you have the right information and an eye for good design. High res images help!!

  • I recommend that in terms for self promotion you should have the flyer/poster designed in away that looks good in print and on the web.

    You should definitely post it on myspace, facebook, and twitter, and even send it out via email if you're looking to go green!

    If something is going print though, I really don't recommend doing it yourself unless you really know what you're doing, otherwise you are spending time and money you could put to better use.

    There are a lot of great designers and digital artist in the online community willing to help musicians out on the cheap if you ask them.

    For musicians I can usually cut my rates in exchange for design credit on the work and a copy of some of their music.

  • Another tip you may find helpful is to be sure your poster can be read at a distance. Large clean type is best! Hatch Show Print friends, google it!

  • As a professional musician and graphic artist, I'll second the motion for high-res. For novices using any of the digital software, be sure to set your image resolution to 300dpi (dots per inch). Web standard is 72dpi, but printing from that low will get you highly blurry and pixelated images in the final print…

  • I liked the idea that Katie had above.

    "So many people commented that they loved the posters that we had some printed on high quality paper and sell them at shows."

    Even if the flyers aren't the best ever, it's always a good idea to take the extras to the show so people that want them can take them to put on their bedroom walls. I couldn't tell you how many kids have sent me pictures of their bedroom walls covered in show flyers. It's a free way to constantly remind that person that you exist.

    A SIDE NOTE: Something we used to do when we released a new CD was hand out flyers with a 2 song demo. If the person brought the demo to the show with them, they could exchange it for a free CD. This got new people to the shows who would have NEVER bought your CD anyway or would've NEVER come to the show either. You get their admission fee plus you get your demo back to use next time. If you don't have a new CD coming out, you could possibly exchange it for free admission (pending the venue's thoughts on this) and then you're getting people to the shows that probably would have never come had you not done that.

  • I like to take strange, old posters that I find and redo them with info about my gigs on them. I recently used an English wrestling poster for my upcoming gig at The Bitter End in NYC, and I gave everyone in the band nicknames that they might have if they were really wrestlers – like "Boom, Boom, Benny" for our percussionist, and "le Destructeur" for our French bass player. I sent the poster out in an email blast to our fanbase and posted it to facebook and myspace, and received a lot of really positive comments on it. You can see the poster in the photo section of

  • This is a good website!, i just recently found it and now is on my Favorites.

  • Don't underestimate what people will do with a compelling image (it doesn't even have to be that good technically) on my first UK tour I made a little myspace page image for it, only to find when I arrived in Wales that the venue really dug it and had blown it up to flyer size.

  • TOTM makes western themed, punk style, black and white flyers…