Arabian Nights – Poster Design

The Arabian Nights production, by the Calvin Theatre Company, had it opening night this past weekend! You can get tickets here.

Since it’s opening week I decided to write a blog post explaining a bit of my design process for the poster. Keep reading if you want some tips, and ideas for when you’re working on your own projects! – Or just to be inspired, or kill some curiosity and what the whole process looked like!

So the design always starts with ideas and concepts. When I talked with the director for the play, Debra Freeberg, she emphasized the idea of lights in the night and this rich colored fabric. I really liked these visuals, and combining it with the night, went for a desert night scene to tie it in with a place.

Since the story is about stories I considered including letters from the Arabic alphabet in the sky. The idea was that these would represent stars as well as the stories told. I liked this concept because it had letters as lights – just how Sherazade’s stories, her words, bring light into the Sultan’s life. Sadly, I lost the image I did for this.

In later renditions, however, I changed this element, because the sky became too heavy and complicated. It wasn’t working as symbols for stars. Instead I embraced circles, a simpler and clearer shape, to represent the stars. Here though, the idea is still that each story is a star in the sky. I also started to play with the idea of the desert and fabrics. I had two main different versions for the fabrics, and one variation of the sky.


I preferred the one with bigger fabric over the title page, but my clients preferred the one with three stripes at the bottom. So I went with what they wanted – I still liked them both a lot.

The font choices were semi-dictated by Calvin’s brand – I incorporated their font “Gotham” into the informational text. The title was made with the same font I used for the audition poster. This one:



I reused these same fonts in all the different posters to keep consistent visual identity for the Season of Love and Forgiveness.  Eventually, there were some problems with this font choice as it didn’t work as well for the last poster, but we kept it for visual consistency – and since the posters were already printed and finalized.

Once the one with three ribbons was chosen, it was all about just finessing details, making sure the fabrics were colorful and vibrant. Adding textures to the desert, putting the stars in their place to create the right degree of randomness and pattern. I played with the colors and sizes a little bit to have some depth and interest in the sky.

Here are two different versions I played with.


From here we decided to take out the lines at the top – they weren’t necessary anymore because there were already lines at the bottom. They wanted to go with the one on the right – only orange and yellow. I decided to push a little bit here and see if I could still have some small stars be blue. I argued that it helped add interest and depth to the sky.

After that there were just small details to finish. Below you can see the low-resolution image for the result! (It’s kinda pixelated, but it shows the main points of this article.)


It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. This project, has helped me to understand how important communication between me and my clients is. If you’re ever providing a service to someone, work really hard on your communication. Make sure you’re understanding each other, if possible, do meet with them. Through conversation you’re better able to grasp what the client is thinking and feeling about your piece.

Sometimes I felt like they really weren’t liking the design, because they’d provide feedback through emails. But once I would talk with them in person than I could see how much they liked it!

I hope that if for nothing else, you were able to enjoy the process behind the poster!


I write blog posts every now and then, but am constantly working on my webcomic “Orange Unicorn.” Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.



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