Developing inspiring visuals to promote the Baldwin Prize

The Baldwin Prize

What was the project background?

The Baldwin Prize is an essay competition that aims to promote self-expression through the written word and facilitate academic opportunities for students at Baltimore City College High School. Named after the writer and humanitarian James Baldwin, the Prize competition prompts City College students to reflect and explore how their inner lives connect with our shared humanity through their essays. In  2022, students will earn more than $2,000 in awards.

Back in 2017, Lionel Foster, the founder of the Baldwin Prize, was looking to develop graphic assets to promote the initiative, and our team took on the challenge as part of our pro bono work.

What was the big project question?

How can we visually represent the inspiring purpose and story of the Baldwin Prize?

What were the objectives?

  1. Develop graphic assets to promote the initiative. 

  2. Inspire students to submit their essays and participate in the competition. 

How did we work through the challenge?

Visual concept and development

Our designers met with the Baldwin Prize’s founder, Lionel Foster, to better understand the values and key elements of the initiative. From this conversation, our team identified we needed to represent the voices of the students, as well as the figure of James Baldwin who embodies the values that the Prize wanted to promote. 

After exploring different directions with pencil sketches, we landed on the idea of representing the face of James Baldwin composed by a constellation. In each of the constellation’s stars, we included quotes from students’ essays that had participated in the competition. We worked with Paris-based illustrator Alexandre Siqueira to bring the idea to life. Once we had the final illustration, we worked on applying it to different formats and versions to use in different channels, in addition to developing other collateral materials such as cards and banners.

What were the outcomes?

The graphic assets became the main images to promote the Baldwin Prize, and are still used to this day. The visual identity we developed -color schemes, typography, logo treatments- transcended from the poster and graphic assets to become part of the visual branding guidelines of the initiative. Additionally, the poster has become a gift to recurring donors of the Baldwin Prize.

In 2017, the Baldwin Prize received approximately 100 submissions. Now they regularly receive more than 400.