HOWTO get striking and inexpensive foam board mounted posters for the next protest

I handed out posters at the March For Lives event in Dayton last Saturday.

They weren’t flimsy posterboard; they were full color printed and on foamcore, and each cost only around $5, instead of the $12-$15 that you might otherwise pay. 

And because we aren’t done protesting, in this post I’m going to tell you how to do it too.

I’ll quickly note that the images on the posters themselves are (IMHO) fair use, due to the transformative nature, purpose of the signs, and that they were not sold.

Some of them in the wild

You don’t need Photoshop; I designed the images in a free image editing program. You can use The Gnu Image Manipulation Program (Win/Mac/Linux) or Paint.NET (Win).  The key is to make sure you have a large and easily-read (and classy) font.  Trajan (pay, from Adobe) or Cinzel (free Google font) work well.

The secret sauce is that the printing of the image and the foamcore are assembled afterward.  I use ShortRunPosters for pretty much every poster need that I have. Their turnaround is quick, they don’t require CMYK separation (if you don’t know, be thankful), and the price is right.  The size these kids are holding are 14″ x 20″, and are $2.75 each (not counting shipping).  If you’d rather use your own printer (and a lot more elbow grease) you can use a service like BlockPosters.

I then ordered foam board sheets from Wal*Mart.  The best price I found was $34 for 10 sheets measuring 20″ x 30″.  While not the same size, they’re large enough we could use each sheet for two posters, and the price of these sizes worked out to the cheapest possible combo.

When all the material got to me, we used spray adhesive to attach the posters to the foam board (two posters per sheet).  Be careful with the adhesive; some got on the T’Challa poster above and we had to fix it with markers as best we could (you can still see the marks in the image above). Then it was just a matter of cutting them apart and trimming the edges.

This size also turned out to work well with the wind and carrying them.  If they were any bigger, the wind would have blown them around and I would have had a hard time carrying them to the rally from my car.

The result was exceptionally striking, and I was thrilled to be able to hand them out to kids and teens who didn’t have signs of their own.