Demystifying Graphic Design: How Posters Work Free class

Ellen Lupton, Curator, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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11 Videos (1h 4m)
    • Introduction

    • Assignment

    • Tell a Story

    • Activate the Diagonal

    • Simplify

    • Overlap

    • Focus the Eye

    • Assault the Surface

    • Visiting Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

    • Creating a Poster

    • Final Thoughts


About This Class

Join museum curator Ellen Lupton for a one-hour class exploring how posters work! You'll go inside New York City's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, explore the six moves that make modern graphic design so compelling, and create a film poster of your own — a surprising and powerful homage to a cinematic masterpiece.

This course is inspired by Cooper Hewitt's 2015 book and exhibition How Posters Work, presenting works from the museum's astonishing collection of over 4,000 historic and contemporary posters. Every lesson is filled with inventive and authentic pieces from this astonishing collection, from Polish film posters to political propaganda. Ellen shows you how to tell a story, excite the eye, and use visual language to create emotional, effective design. Plus, Ellen shares her own poster design process in a hands-on design lesson. Explore the museum's collection at

This class is perfect for graphic designers, illustrators, and enthusiasts alike. All you need is a passion for design, a curious eye, and love for a visual story.


This class is presented in collaboration with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

780 of 785 students recommendSee All

So inspired, can't wait to jump into the project myself :)
Great course! I found it very useful in understanding the basics in poster design. Highly recommended!
Best class on Skillshare!!!
Jie-Fei Y.






Ellen Lupton

Curator, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

I am a curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. An author of numerous books and articles on design, I am a public-minded critic, frequent lecturer, and AIGA Gold Medalist. My book Thinking with Type is used by students, designers, and educators worldwide.