Thomas Eckert

< writing /


Tutoring Poster Design Process

14 May 2018 Seattle, WA

I was recently hired for a position that begins at the end of July. It's a huge opportunity. In the meantime, I want to do something meaningful and productive. For me, that's tutoring.

Working with students is rewarding emotionally and mentally. Forming empathic connections makes their success, my success. And when they are stuggling, I get to challenge myself to rethink conventions of my knowledge to teach it in innovative ways.

I want to tutor in the area nearby for students from middle school through college. I put myself up on Craigslist and got in contact with local universities, but I also wanted to advertise myself in coffeeshops and on campus with posters.

When designing the poster, I had the following constraints:

  • Capture attention amongst other flyers on the post board.
  • Use black and white because my printer uses toner.
  • Communicate that I am a tutor for all skill levels with a Masters degree who can be contacted via email.

My primary qualifications for tutoring are in physics and math. I decided to use imagery related to both disciplines. The conic sections are intersections between a plane and cone that yield the circle, ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola. These are used in orbital mechanics to classify the paths taken by objects around gravitational wells (e.g. planets).

I started by getting these ideas down in a document in the simplest manner.

There are also representations of conic sections that more clearly show the hyperbola by cutting across two cones in an hourglass-like arrangement.

I ditched the hourglass shape because I preferred the suggestion of pointing upwards that comes with the single cone. I knew from the get-go that my font was way too small, but I wanted to figure out an image and work the text around it. Now it was time to embolden and embiggen the font. I chose Helvetica because it's serious without being dour. It doesn't have an overpowering flavor that would draw too much attention to itself.

Labeling the conic sections on both sides with equations and names makes it a little hard to connect each label with its curve. I decided to just use the equations. I made the cone huge and cut off to suggest a sense of scale. The stark diagonal line is pretty eye-catching. I also simplified the hierarchy to just two levels - a title and the relevant info.

Moments before printing, I decided to double-check the email address. It was eckert.tutoring, not eckert.tutor (whew).