Live Wire Lines

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Oliver Munday has been working for months on The Wire Poster Project. He designed 60 posters, one for each episode of HBO series The Wire. The posters are typographic responses to the epigram(s) that precede every episode. All of the proceeds from the sale of the posters will go to Baltimore Urban Debate League that was featured in an episode of the show. Posters go on sale Nov.1st. I asked Munday to tell us more.


What prompted you to do this project?It started with my love fascination with The Wire. I came up with the idea while watching the series for the second time. At first it was simply a way for me to respond to the show. In developing the idea a bit more, it seemed that there was an opportunity to have some impact, as well. I went to MICA for undergrad, and I have a longstanding relationship with Baltimore.


How did you determine what style you would use to illustrate these shows?

I chose to go in a typographic in direction, using simplified shapes to reflect the content of the epigram where appropriate. I borrowed from the vernacular of Globe Poster, a poster institution in-and-of-itself, located in Baltimore city. That style, while inherently Baltimore, is referenced quite a bit. The goal was to use those moments as accents, paired with the layering and complexity of the type in an effort to create something fresh. I had to impose some aesthetic parameters in the beginning in an attempt to unify the posters. It also helped me tackle in a practical time-frame.

What do you think these posters add to The Wire experience?I’m hoping that this will give the true enthusiasts an opportunity to celebrate their favorite characters, moments, and quotes from the series. I ultimately did something that I would love to have as a fan. I also think that it gives people a chance to connect with the things that the show spoke to so fervently, by supporting a community organization in Baltimore.


I’ll be honest, I like them en masse, but there is a certain monotony too. What is your feeling about that?

This was something I struggled with, as well. I wanted their to be a certain power to them all appearing together, but It definitely gets monotonous. This harkens back to the guidelines I set for the myself in the beginning. I think once a poster is up on the wall, removed from the cluster, it will maintain it’s personality and stand out in the way it should. We are planning on having a gallery event in Baltimore in the coming months, with every poster displayed in a space. I kind of like the idea of the poster-din overwhelming a viewer at a large scale.

Can a series as complex and searing as The Wire really be summed up through one piece of dialog per show?I don’t think that it can. But I think they complement it so well. I like how certain quotes can take you back to a very vivid memory, while others serve as a glint, highlighting the episodes message. Everyone has a favorite moment in time from the show, and a quote that speaks to them. This is a way to memorialize those moments.


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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →