KOTESOL 2016 Jeonju-North Jeolla Regional Conference Poster

When I heard the theme for the 2016 annual KOTESOL Regional Conference in Jeonju:

Dive in! Transforming Students from Spectators to Speakers

I thought it could be used to create a really intriguing visual, so I volunteered to help design the poster.

It just so happens that at the same time, I was teaching GPA High School’s Yearbook class and we had just finished covering Fonts and Color Theory, and were moving into Layout. So I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give the students a practical, hands-on, real-life assignment to practice the concepts we’d just studied.

I showed them samples of the previous KOTESOL posters I’d done, provided them with the same text that would be shown on the poster and let them loose with only a few guidelines:

  1. Focus on Fonts – try not to use more than 3 and be consistent
  2. Minimize colors – design first in black and white, later add in a single blue
  3. Focus on Layout – the reason for the simplicity was to primarily focus on good balance, font choice, and use of whitespace in the design – images were added later

Here’s a sample of some of the designs my students came up with. (My examples are the two in the bottom right corner):


Pretty good, right?

Very shortly after creating these designs however, I was informed that the conference would be postponed until the Fall semester. So I put these designs on the back burner and moved on to teaching other things.


Around early June, I heard back from the conference organizers that they had set the new date and wanted a poster for an upcoming seminar they were doing. My Yearbook class was busy working on their Yearbook at that time and we’d just looked through a handful of cover designs to decide what kinds of things we did and didn’t want on the cover.

The following image is one that really stood out to me and inspired the next designs:

The feedback I got on the first new design is as follows:

Thanks for all the work Aaron! I like how you took our idea and made it better. Diving off a cliff is much more interesting than diving into a pool. I especially like the way you used the diver as part of the title!

Just some feedback:
– Can we either move or remove the 2016 from the top? Jeonju-North Jeolla KOTESOL should be together, not split. I’m attaching the 2013 poster just to compare.
– Can we perhaps make KOTESOL clearer on the page? Perhaps add 대한영어교육학회 to the logo?
– Any chance of having real people on the cliff, or adding colour in any way to attract attention?
– When I read the bottom, it looks like “transforming from spectators students to speakers”, though my brain pauses when I get to students, because that doesn’t make sense, obviously.
– I’m wondering if there’s a reason you put triangles all over the page?

Thanks so much!

So, I incorporated the feedback and toned down the triangles in the background. But here is my reasoning behind the initial design anyway:

  1. I purposefully limited myself on the color scheme and tried to create a purposely illustrative vector image (minus the rock) for a creative challenge
  2. I chose an analogous color scheme (blue, indigo, purple) from Google’s Material Design palette for that very reason
  3. I used the triangles in the background because I personally really liked the texture and thought it added a little something that a plain blue sky/water background just wouldn’t have

Design Progression

Below is the progression of the designs from first to final.

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