LMPR Tech: Open Source Graphic Design

LMPR Tech is a series from Laura Murray Public Relations that explores the latest digital tools and trends and how to get the most out of an often limited arts marketing budget.


open source graphics


For our very first post in LMPR Tech, we thought we’d address one common issue that many if not all arts organizations face, limited budgets for software. Luckily, these days it doesn’t mean that your promotional materials have to suffer, and we’re going to introduce you to some open source technology that will be very helpful in creating content.


Open source technology is a movement started by programmers and developers in response to the limited computer programs offered by the major software corporations. In fact, many of the most popular programs you come into contact on a regular basis are built with open source technology, such as Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, WordPress blogging platform, and Google’s Android smart phone operating system.


With open source, programmers donate their time in a collaborative environment where anyone can contribute its source code. For those readers that aren’t quite so tech savvy, all you really need to know is that there is an endless list of helpful programs out there that are available free or by donation.


If your arts organization is struggling to justify the expense of purchasing expensive programs or carrying monthly fees and may not even need all of the extensive features, we’re going to recommend a few alternatives. Give these programs a try, and if you don’t like them, there are many other open source options tools out there to begin your exploration.


Gimp Photo Editor (Adobe Photoshop Alternative)
Gimp is a helpful tool for retouching, resizing, adjusting lighting or colours, and adding filters to images. Perfect for use in your website, email newsletters, presentations, and print promotional materials.



Inkscape Vector Graphics (Adobe Illustrator Alternative)
Inkscape is helpful in designing vector graphics from scratch. Vector graphics are set on points rather than image pixels, so they can even be stretched across the largest billboards without a loss of quality. If you really get familiar with a tool like this one, you can design your own digital artwork such as a logo or infographics.



Scribus Publishing (Adobe InDesign/Microsoft Publisher Alternative)
Once you have all of your images and graphics set up, a program like Scribus is great to put it all together and prepare the layout of your next poster or season brochure for printing.


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