Initial Creative Concepts For Annual Convention

By Jerrol Krause

I (Jerrol) just finished two initial theme variations for my company’s annual convention/trade show and thought I would share them with Creative Curio readers as well as discuss my thought process for how I approached each design. I’ll be presenting my concepts to the decision makers later this week and when one is chosen I’ll be using that look for a whole slew of materials for convention.

If you’ve never designed for a convention, it’s a real blast (and also a TON of work). The best part about designing for a convention is walking through the convention center and seeing artwork you designed everywhere, especially the large format pieces like giant posters, displays, booths and banners.

The Setup

The theme provided to the creative team this year was ‘Boldly Go’. From there we had pretty much unlimited creative freedom to come up with our vision for the look and feel of the convention (a very rare treat for designers). The initial piece being designed is a postcard which is the first piece of collateral that goes out.

I think the phrase ‘Boldly Go’ came from someone in marketing who thought they were being clever because the convention is going to be in Orlando this year and my department has a reputation for Star Trek/Star Wars geekiness… Anyway…

Sci-Fi Theme

Sci-Fi Theme

I decided to ignore the obvious nudge towards Star Trek because I didn’t want people to think “Star Trek Convention” instead of “Company Convention” and figured some people might get turned off by the nerd factor (in addition to copyright/legal issues). I decided a generic space/sci-fi look would fit the bill nicely.

I wanted to base the design primarily on punchy photography with a lot of color and a high dynamic range because that will give it a lot of visual interest and catch people’s attention in an otherwise crowded convention hall. For presenting the information I wanted an interface feel with a lot of subtle detail worked into the design that wouldn’t detract from the message. To get the look I was going for, I used a lot of glows and transparent effects which gives it that science fiction feel.

Old World Theme

Old World Style

For this design I wanted to present something that was a complete polar opposite from the sci-fi theme. To contrast the amount of detail and color in the sci-fi theme, I decided on an old world explorer/sailing theme based on faded maps and old navigation tools (it was initially my beautiful wife’s idea). I wanted something clean, simple and elegant.

I started with a paper texture and worked a lot of subtle detail into the background. The gold type adds richness which accents nicely against the brown of the map, and because a lot of the visual detail is subtle and located in the background, this design is very light and easy on the eyes. An old astrolabe serves as the focal point. If this design gets selected, I’ll be able to have it printed on a rough faded parchment stock instead of overused photo glossy which will add a really nice tactile sensation to the printed pieces.

The Wrap Up

So far everyone I’ve presented my designs to tend to feel very strongly about one or the other in a pretty even split. Which design do YOU like best?