During my last year of college, my VCU design professor assigned Eye Magazine as mandatory reading. It was 1998, Steven Heller’s article “Writing on the Wall” (Eye No. 30 Vol. 8) featured the bold, highly-evocative work of designer James Victore. The two posters on the opening spread tackled the issue of race in such an honest and direct way that I could feel it down to my bones. In the first poster, Victore scrawled in gritty black ink on a white background the word “racism.” The “C” drawn larger and in red evokes the terrifying feeling of a shark chomping towards a helpless victim. The second poster, to me, was even more powerful. For the NAACP, Victore addressed the topic of “Racism and the Death Penalty.” For this one, he scrawled the familiar childhood game of hangman, but it takes a dramatic twist. He filled the six blanks with three letters _ _ G G _ R.
There’s nothing pretty about it, yet I’ve always admired James Victore’s work. It appropriately captures the heart of important topics and brilliantly wakes us up to issues we should care about or take action to change. So damn good, I wish I had thought of it.
Bobby C. Martin, Jr. is a founding member of The Original Champions of Design (OCD). He was previously Manager of Visual Communications at Nokia Design in London, and design director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.