How I Turned My Love of 'The Wire' into Design for Impact

Most mainstream exposure to ‘hood’ culture doesn’t give an honest look into the heart and character of it. The Wire was brutally honest to a fault, but made me fully appreciate life in Baltimore.

I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore as an undergrad. It was only a matter of days after finishing my move that someone asked me, “Have you watched The Wire yet?” I had little notion of what Baltimore was actually like, even though I grew up 40 miles down Route 95 in Washington, D.C. I was completely swept away by the series. Most mainstream exposure to ‘hood’ culture doesn’t give an honest look into the heart and character of it. The Wire was brutally honest to a fault, but made me fully appreciate life in Baltimore.

I’m now a graphic designer by trade: book covers, illustrations for newspapers. I also design- directed GOOD’s spring edition in 2013—but I’m still a giant fan of The Wire. It was upon watching the show for the second time many years later that the idea to design a poster series hit me. My girlfriend and I would high-five every time the quote that preceded each episode showed up in the dialogue. It got me thinking that there were so many good quotes on the show that people always seemed to reference in their day-to-day lives; everyone had a favorite. I wanted to do something with those quotes that would propel fans of the series to take a real stake in the Baltimore community, a stake that transcended just passively watching the series and sympathizing with its characters.

The Wire Poster Project consists of 60 typographic posters, each one representing one of the 60 different epigrams that preceded every episode of HBO’s series. Each purchase will benefit the Baltimore Urban Debate League.

Wire fans might remember the organization from the series’ fifth season when (just after being taken in by Howard “Bunny” Colvin) character Namond Brice gives an award-winning speech about HIV and AIDS in Africa in a BUDL event. Each WPP purchase will help at-risk inner city youth like Namond Brice in Baltimore.

One of the things that’s amazing about The Wire is that it doesn’t seem to get old. So it was important to me that this project didn’t simply look backward to try to memorialize something that was essentially over and done with. I make no bones about the fact that this project is as much my ongoing relationship with the series as it is about some kind of unmediated experience of the series itself. I hope the posters can create a similar kind of effect for you.

To donate to the Baltimore Urban Debate League, get your poster here. Click here to add it to your To-Do list.

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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