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Tips for Designing An Effective Sign

You and your graphic designer are 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.

> 80-character limit
> Design your artwork within a 2” x 7” horizontal rectangle. This approximates the actual dimensions of an actual panel on the side of the Barn Theater. (Please do not submit artwork with different dimensions.) Click here for more information on how to submit your artwork.


  • For maximum readability and effectiveness, we very strongly recommend you design within
    the 80-character limit. (See Pricing page for details about charges for extra characters.)
  • Use medium- to high-resolution artwork for your electronic artwork. Higher resolution is required because the artwork will be printed before it is projected onto the building. We recommend at least 200 dpi at the actual size.
  • Be bold. Use simple, striking art and clear type. Small type or very detailed art is NOT effective on a billboard.
  • Competing for attention: There are four panels on the Barn. Keep in mind that your Barn Sign will appear next to other (possibly stronger) artwork.
  • 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 will become “invisible” to the viewer.
  • 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 only make your Barn Sign less effective and more expensive.
  • Test the readability of your Barn Sign. 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.

The human hand and human eye are different than digital reproduction.
Since this is not a precise digital process, you should expect that the final artwork painted on the side of the barn will not be identical to the digital art you submitted. The painter doesn't match to Pantone color chips or formula numbers. He literally stirs up paint in a bucket to approximate the color on your artwork. Old school!