Entertainment Design Wednesday: Movie Poster Clichés… Can Design Stereotypes be Avoided in Key Art?

Recently, a French blogger named Christophe Courtois posted an article on the topic of movie poster clichés, pulling together dozens of examples of key art that have the same look and feel. Sites like Upprox weighed in on the subject, discussing the message of such design stereotypes. Other websites like the Inspired Movie Posters Blog and Monkey Key Art Awards often dedicated regular blog posts to the topic.

Movie poster clichés is relevant to students earning their Graphic Design Degree with an emphasis in Entertainment Design at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, who are learning the fundamental of a successful entertainment campaign. Check out one example below of posters depicting a lone character viewed from behind:

Movie poster cliches curated by Christophe Courtois

These montages demonstrate how the movie poster (also known as the key art) often takes on similar design elements like color and scale, and even literal visual objects like a giant eyeball, or a woman wearing a red dress. This attention to the movie poster clichés also demonstrates how available it is to public criticism as the official art of a film.

Given the fast-paced demands of our culture today,  it must be difficult to reinvent the poster again and again, especially in terms of layout and format given the static dimensions of a poster. It’s definitely important to take such designs into consideration as an aspiring graphic designer, who will be challenged to push the envelope in order to be successful in the Entertainment Design industry.

By studying these posters, one could also learn about the power of iconic images. For example, the overpowering use of blue in the nature-inspired film posters to depict a calm feeling, or of a woman in red to suggest sensuality, demonstrate how our culture interprets messages through a powerful and common visual language.

“Clichés are useful when coming up with a metaphor, but they can be a trap when you use ‘design’ cliches in your layouts or photo shoots,” says Steve Reaves, the Graphic Design Program Director at FIDM, who emphasizes the importance of conceptual thinking and research, and the role of a graphic designer as a visual problem solver in the Entertainment Design industry.

Below, check out some of the movie poster cliche montages as curated by Christophe Courtois.

Movie poster cliches curated by Christophe Courtois

[All photo montages courtesy of and available in high res at Christophe Courtois]

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Author: Mani O'Brien

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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