I saw more fabric posters at Neuroscience 2011 than I had seen at other meetings. This was no doubt due to the larger contingent of international visitors who wanted the better portability than big clunky document tubes.
But how do fabric posters perform on the conference room floor? Not as well as paper.
Compared to paper posters, fabric posters:
Don’t lie as flat. Fabric posters are shipped to you, folded, in a box. They’ve got creases in them when you take them out of the box. Folds and creases mean that there will be shadows running all over your poster, unless you are blessed with phenomenal lighting conditions. Details can get easily obscured by the dark spots. This might be alleviated if you put in the effort to iron your poster before heading to the conference center.
Don’t count on pulling the corners taut with tacks to save you. Fabric stretches, even the sort of light weave used for printing, so I expect getting those creases out just by tight tacking is incredibly difficult. Fabrics want to wrinkle and sag; paper doesn’t.
Aren’t as bright. The fabric posters I walked by looked a little dimmer and lower contrast than paper posters. I’d written before about the sharpness of images on fabric posters, but the conferences I had seen them in were much smaller than Neuroscience, and I was generally closer to the posters than when I was browsing through the Neuroscience halls.
If you make a fabric poster, everything must be bigger and bolder than paper. Bigger text, bigger figures, and high contrast colours. Don’t mess around with subtleties.
P.S.—I don’t have any pictures of these posters from Neuroscience, because the Society for Neuroscience was very... emphatic... about forbidding picture taking and recording from the floor of the poster session.