Motivational posters can be found all over the world and are used by distinct groups for different purposes. Athletes use them to train harder, managers use them to improve productivity and morale. And college students mostly use them for a good laugh. There are plenty of organizations that have discovered the effectiveness of inspirational posters. The military makes them to attract more recruits, political parties install them to encourage voters to select them. And businesses distribute them to foster their brand message. While just hanging up a poster itself won’t make you richer, smarter or more successful. There is scientific evidence that proves inspirational posters can trigger certain actions. Such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Despite often registering on your “eye roll” meter, the power of motivational posters should not be underestimated.
Of course, it all would have been impossible without cheap poster printing paving the way for mass commercialization of posters all over the world several decades ago. Ever since, motivational posters have become increasingly popular and their distribution peaked in the late 1990’s. Back then, it seemed every manager had at least two or three motivational poster hanging up in the office. Today, there are two groups of people: those who love inspiration posters and those who think they are ridiculous. The latter group often makes fun of motivational posters on the internet by designing ‘motivational posters’. Either way, inspirational posters still persist in our times and everyone has come across them in one way or the other, be it through images on Facebook, appearances on TV shows like ‘How I Met Your Mother’ or in college student dorm rooms.
So what are the best motivational posters? Well, everybody has different preferences and tastes, so we selected these inspirational posters based on their different styles and formats. Let’s dive in:
When we think of motivational posters, we usually picture something like the image above: black background, an inspiring picture in the middle, an ambiguous word below and a short quote or cliché to explain it. Due to its simple design and straightforward message, this type of motivational poster has become the gold standard of motivational posters. The message of hard work, dedication and determination are some of the most common themes since they apply to almost any organized group of people. As a result, a broad range of variations exist and if none of them appeal you, it’s easy to reproduce this design yourself by adding your own image and text.
Posters related to developing mental strength and a positive mindset are another popular category among inspirational posters. They usually use colors that most people associate with health and fun, such as green or yellow, and include symbols that indicate positiveness or happiness like the plus sign, smile emoticons or other similar symbols. By reminding you to think positive, these posters could be quite useful for adopting a more enthusiastic view on the world. The poster above is a great example that shows that you don’t need to stick to the standard black background, image and text template mentioned above. In fact, we found this template available for free on Canva and changed some of the colors.
Another common theme for motivational posters is the message to push your boundaries and take risks. Again, this is a message that can apply to several target groups such as athletes who want to become the best, entrepreneurs who aim to disrupt their market or simply employees who hope to climb the career ladder. In this case, Facebook used the poster to promote the brands ideology. As regards the design, this poster uses a simple one color background and just adds the text in bold on top of it. A more popular variation of this inspirational poster theme plays on a basketball analogy: “You miss 100% of the shots you didn’t take”.
Leaning on the motto of famous movies such as ‘Rocky Balboa’, ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ or ‘Forrest Gump’, one of the most popular motivational posters is about keeping up the fight and not giving up. The posters exhibited above are a particularly interesting due to the use of colors to create alternative versions. They’re reminiscent of guerilla marketing tactics where organization or companies would produce different poster variations of the same design style and spread them out throughout the city to promote a certain message.
Due to its nature, leadership is a theme often used by managers and people who aspire to join the management circles. There are countless of different interpretations of this topic, ranging from famous quotes, portrait images of famous leaders or the classic design that can be seen in the image above. Depending on where you want to hang the motivational poster and what your profession is, you might even prefer to opt for a funny design that use humorous images, wordplay, sarcasm or other jokes. However, the main messages should always be the same, it takes more than just a title to be a leader.
Demotivational posters became very fashionable after the hype of inspirational posters reached its zenith and people started to mock them. The result was an overabundance of hilarious posters such as the one displayed above. Today, this type of posters can often been observed in the rooms of teenagers and college students. The example we added on top of this paragraph stands out because it not only mocks motivational posters, but also uses an old retro style to further underline the joke that they’re outdated.
Funny motivational posters can often be found on the internet on forums such as Reddit and similar. They’re typically based on the traditional style since it makes it easier to design the poster and understand the joke. One user created the funny poster above that features actor Eli Roth from a scene of the ‘Inglourious Basterds’ movie and plays on a situation we all faced before: being asked to donate to Wikipedia but not doing it. If you enjoy these type of posters, a quick search on Google will make you laugh even more. Be careful though as internet meme spirals have the habit of making hours disappear.
Of course, no list of motivational posters would be complete without the famous “Hang in There, Baby!” poster. It’s hard to believe, but this poster created by photographer Victor Baldwin. Was at its peak, probably the most popular poster of the 1970s. With more than 350,000 copies sold. The simplicity and humor of this print product made it one of the most emblematic posters in history. And gave birth to a new genre of motivational posters that are based on funny animal pictures.
Of course, you don’t really need to buy an existing overused motivational slogan. Nowadays, it’s quite easy to make one yourself. All you need is a good stock photo. Also a catchy phrase and a free online tool like Canva and you can easily design your own motivational poster in a few minutes. If you’re stuck with an idea, you can always use a popular theme. And twist it a little bit (but be careful if you want to commercialize your idea as you may be in violation of copyright infringement). We gave it shot with the poster above. Whaddya think?
If you want to create a more original poster with just one click of the mouse. There are even examples of AI technology creating inspirational posters. However, the results are really weird and bizarre. While the technology clearly needs improvement, you can use a free inspirational poster generator like InspiroBot. Just don’t expect any miracles yet. We had to spend about ten minutes going through different AI-generated motivational posters until we found one that was mildly interesting and actually made sense (see the image above). Most of the time we got posters that looked more like the one below:
While their usage and styles might be different, motivational posters are still very relevant today. Luckily, it’s not just the same boring black background, white text and stock photo anymore. These days, there are many more different designs of inspirational posters available than ever before and you can even access most of them for free thanks to the internet community constantly coming up with new styles. On the other hand, technology allows every one of us to become a designer and create cool original posters in just a few minutes or we let an AI do it for us. Either way, motivational posters are here to stay.