a music poster

Telling a Cultural Story

Fall 2020

individual school project

Illustrator, Photoshop


The Irish Pittsburgh Festival is an annual event that attracts a 25,000 person crowd of all ages to enjoy some corned beef and potatoes, booths selling hand crafted goods, and lively musical performances!


Due to the pandemic, the festival decided to hold a Facebook live event to give support to local Irish musicians. The poster should attract both regular listeners and fresh ears to partake in this celebration of culture. Therefore, information clarity and a non-cliché depiction were my main challenges to tackle.

Poster text was provided as a plain word document.




Understand basic principles of visual hierarchy such as contrast, proximity, alignment, scale, and color

Learn how to tell a cultural story that I am not familiar with


Starting with my blank slate understanding of Irish culture, I received a lot of insight from emailing the festival's founder, visiting the local Irish Design Center, and listening to past Facebook Live Irish performances.

I was fascinated by the different patterns and symbols found at the center.

Picking the poster's focus

After understanding as much as I could about Pittsburgh Irish culture, I boiled it down to three potential focuses: Irish musicians for a more traditional music poster, the Celtic knot for its mathematical precision and iconography, or the Irish hares to tie into nature and animal symbolism.


I picked the Irish hares in the end for four reasons.

Irish hares' light-footed movement resembling the tempo of Irish music

the importance of animal symbolism and nature in Irish culture and mythology

swirls resembling the work done in Irish manuscripts

different sized hares representing a gathering of multiple generations





hare sketches

initial experiments

Alignment and Scale

I wanted my type to resemble the playfulness of my illustration. Therefore, the name of the performers aren't aligned perfectly along a straight line. I made the performer names readable from a distance because their inherent uniqueness adds to the event's story. Finally, I enlarged "Irish Music Series" to make the contents of the event clear.


I tried to find ways to make the classic green, white, and orange color scheme refreshing rather than stereotypical.

I tried desaturating the green at first, then making it a more youthful teal, even replacing it with a warm grey, and finally picking a rich, deep green to symbolize the Irish grasslands and the richness of the Irish tradition.


My main obstacle was coming to terms with my lack of knowledge of Irish culture. I understood I couldn't capture the most authentic Irish depiction within 2 weeks, so I had to solidify what I wanted this project to be: I would rather end up with a more experimental product and interpretation of Irish culture rather than a poster that communicates well due to its clichés. However, if I were working with an actual client, I understand that these creative liberties would be much more restricted.

Frame 3.png


Reading Amongst Nature