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Tips for Designing An Effective Sign

You and your graphic designer are ultimately responsible for your sign's readability.

The Arts Events Office does not provide design services, but we are happy to offer suggestions and advice for laying out an effective barn sign.

- Be bold. Use simple, striking art and clear type. Small type or very detailed art is NOT effective on a billboard.

- For maximum effectiveness, we strongly recommend you design within the 80-character limit.

- Use contrasting colors for background and text. Remember, people will not be parked in front of the Barn Theater when they view your sign, they will typically be in a moving vehicle. (This is VERY different from focusing your attention on printed artwork in your hands.)

- Be effective: Design using only the most essential text. Omit unnecessary text such as the year or the day of the week. Excessive text and small type is impossible to read. Using a lot of small type will make your Barn Sign more expensive and less effective as an advertising tool.

- Test the readability of your Barn Sign. Less info is better. Tape a printout of your artwork to a wall. Step back 10 feet or so and take a 5-10 second look. Ask someone else to view it with you. Does it make an immediate impression on them? Can they read everything easily? How do photos or other images “read”? Consider abbreviating dates (e.g. "Nov." instead of "November") or omitting detailed information.

- Competing for attention: There are four panels on the Barn. Keep in mind that your Barn Sign will appear next to other artwork. If your design is very "busy" and complicated while the nearby sign is bold and eye-catching, guess whose sign will get mor?

- Make your sign stand out: A Barn Sign that is very bold and well designed will stand out to viewers. A sign that is hard to read or confusing with become “invisible” to the viewer.

- Human hand and eye vs. digital process: Since this is not a precise digital process, some variation of your colors is inevitable. Our painter mixes his paints as closely as possible, but you should expect some variation from what you see on your printed art submission. Note: The painter does not match to Pantone color chips or formula numbers. 


Please design your artwork within a 2” x 7” horizontal rectangle. This approximates the actual dimensions of a panel on the side of the Barn Theater. WE CANNOT ACCEPT YOUR ARTWORK IF IT IS NOT 2” X 7”. Artwork can be submitted electronically or as hard-copy. FOAPAL is required prior to painting.