Airport Code Posters

The Challenge: To design, print and hang airport code posters for my son’s nursery.

My Inspiration: I had been fishing around Pinterest for “Airplane Nursery Decor” when I came across various examples of posters that had random airport codes on them. I went to Etsy to see how much one of these posters would cost and I thought to myself: I can make this myself! Working on this blog for the last few months has helped me grow in my extremely limited graphic design skills, so I had just enough blind optimism to think I could try to make these posters all on my own.

I did not want to scam anyone else’s design in the slightest and I also didn’t 100% like any of the designs had seen anyway. I wanted to create an amalgam of various designs and create an airport code poster that was uniquely my own.

Here’s what I did like about the various posters I saw:

  • A very large representation of the airport’s code eg: ORD, MKE, MDT
  • The airport’s full name is listed
  • A silhouette of an airplane
  • A graphic representation of that particular airport’s runways

After putzing around on Photoshop Elements (did I mention I am a graphic design ingenue?) for a little while, I designed these posters and I am pretty proud of them. My sister told me I could sell them on Etsy. I probably could but I am too lazy to try.

What I Need: 

  • Photo editing/graphic design software
  • Free Airplane graphics/vectors
  • Access to color printing
  • 8x10in Frames
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure

Who is Helping Me: I asked my hubs to print these for me. Otherwise, I did it all myself.

Who is NOT Helping Me: The way that frames are never literally the dimension they say they are! I had a lot of trouble with the 8×10 frames I bought from Amazon. The area that is actually exposed for a picture is waaaaaayyy less than 8×10 and is not even close to a normal predictable measurement/ratio. So, not only did I waste $2.50 printing beautiful posters at Fedex Office that were completely cut off by the frame and completely useless, I had to do about 20 test prints in black in white at home to figure out how to scale the image to fit correctly. When I thought I had finally figured out the proper scale, I had my husband print them again for me in color and they are still not 100% perfect. In the MKE and MDT posters, there are very, very small parts of the design that are cut off. After so much frustration, I decided to follow my favorite adage (and what could be this blog’s tagline) and “leave well enough alone”. Instead of adjusting the scale of the printed image, I could have just gone back and adjusted the original photoshop image slightly to ensure nothing would get cut off…. but I didn’t want to do that because I feel that technology should work for me and not me for it!*

*I realize this is entirely unrealistic and extremely stubborn of me to feel this way.

How I Did It: There’s not a whole lot of interesting detail I can give in regards to my process. I literally sat in front of my laptop adjusting background colors, font sizes and image sizes before stumbling upon my final design. The only truly interesting thing I did was design the the runway patterns. I guess if I sell these on Etsy I shouldn’t give too much detail, but I used aerial images of the airports to create a graphic representation of the runways. Harrisburg Airport (MDT) has the most hilariously basic runway when compared with O’Hare and Milwaukee, but hanging in context with the other posters you get the idea that it’s not just a random diagonal line on the poster for no reason.

I grew up outside of Chicago and my husband grew up outside of Harrisburg so I chose to make ORD (O’Hare) and MDT (Harrisburg) posters respectively, but I also wanted to make a poster for where we’ve ended up: Milwaukee (MKE). My husband and I are both transplants here, but Milwaukee is our home together and both our kids will be born here.*

*Unless somehow I give birth while traveling. I have heard that the 2nd baby can come quick!

I bought identical frames on Amazon and printed the posters on a high-quality color printer. I used a hammer, nails and a tape measure to hang them on the wall. Like I said, there isn’t as much drama and intrigue associated with this project as there has been on other projects.


Would I Do It Again?:  YES! I am really proud of myself for making these. I have bought printables off of Etsy before and always told myself that a cheapskate like me should just learn enough graphic design to make a printable myself! I wouldn’t even call what I did “graphic design” as it was basic, basic, basic image placement, but if you look at the airport code posters out there it’s not like they are super involved and intricate anyway. There are some posters on Etsy for >$30 each that are the just the airport code and the coordinates of the airport. I’m not throwing any shade as they are all great designs, but I’m just saying that the simplicity of what I saw motivated me to try my hand at doing it myself. And isn’t that the essence of this blog:  Me naively thinking I can recreate or accomplish something just because someone else did?

The only thing I would change would be the whole printing debacle. I just need someone to explain to me how to better predict the final size of an image when it’s printed and the best way to nail it right the first time. I’m sure I’m missing some photoshop trick or printer setting that can remedy this whole thing.

What do you think? Should I sell these for $30 on Etsy and actually make money from this blog rather than lose money every week? Eh.. I’m not THAT naively optimistic.




  1. These are very cool, and I love that you put your own spin on what you were seeing elsewhere online. The runway layouts are super creative, but I had to laugh at the Harrisburg one. So podunk compared to the other two runway systems 😀


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