Things You'll Need
- Computer design program
- Digital photographs
- Felt tip pens
- Magic markers or Sharpie pens
- Random magazine, newspaper, or advertising images (for cut-and-paste flyers)
- Scanner (for sizing non-digitized photos)
Whether you're promoting your band's next show, your new business, or inviting the neighborhood to a party, nothing beats a catchy flyer for getting the word out. Nor do you need to be an artistic master to get an attention-grabbing result. If you pay attention to good design principles, you'll create pieces that will stand out from the crowd.
Choose Your Artistic Medium
Choose your artistic medium, which will be determined by your audience and budget. If money is tight, a hand-drawn or photocopied cut-and-paste design will be sufficient. If you're wooing high-end clients to a new business, computer design programs like Adobe or InDesign are a must to create the right look.
Determine the creative concept or idea you're trying to sell. Figure out the selling points, with eye-catching images to match. For example, leading with a local comedian's photo will combat the tendency to tune out similar-looking images -- a phenomenon called "poster blindness."
Follow the journalistic "five Ws and one H" method of presenting information -- meaning who, what, when, where, why, and how. Save the finer details for small print, or leave them out altogether. Otherwise, no one will read your flyer.
Make your first line count, since most people won't read beyond it. Avoid mushy, ill-defined terms -- touting "punk rock's dark prince returns," for example, is snappier than saying, "the edgiest show around." Study similar types of flyers if you feel stuck for inspiration.
Create A Memorable Look
Cut out random letters and images from printed media, such as magazines and newspapers, to create the "ransom note" style -- which is a cornerstone of the basic approach. Glue or tape each element onto the paper. Use felt tip pens, Magic Markers or Sharpie pens to draw logos, cartoons or catch phrases that augment the design.
Develop basic layouts with Adobe, InDesign or Photoshop programs to create a professional look. Using the relevant tool, draw individual boxes to place your photos and text onto the layout design. Fill in the details as you go along, such as colors, font sizes and highlights.
Choose photos from your computer's image archives that you want to use. Click on the image, then drag and drop it in the photo layout box. Crop and size the photo until you're satisfied. For non-digitized photos, you'll need a scanner to perform these functions.
Choose light-colored paper to make phrases and slogans stand out more effectively. Avoid overly designed paper, which signals a more cluttered look. Use boldface type to emphasize words and phrases that need highlighting.
Run a test print of your flyer. Stick it on the wall, and see how it looks from a distance. Take the opportunity to proofread your copy, and double-check for words or phrases that still need to be emphasized. Don't let your flyer go until you're happy with the end result.
Stick with one or two font styles for your final version. This avoids challenging people's eyesight when they're trying to read your flyer.
Take chances with the design, but don't overdo it. Never lose sight of the goal, which is telling people what's happening and why they should be interested.
Don't overdo the method and number of copies. A simple cut-and-paste flyer can be reproduced at the local copy shop, while more elaborate designs should be printed professionally.
If you use a clip art package for photos, double-check their source. Don't take someone else's images, because you'll be liable if the copyright holder finds out.
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.