The Olympics are a time when the whole world pays attention to some healthy competition and to one country … the host country. The 2008 Summer Olympics are being held in Beijing, China this year and so far they are doing a bang-up job in the hosting realm.
Everything that we have seen on the television, or in person if you are fortunate enough to be there, has taken many years to develop and plan – even the graphics.
The Olympics’ Graphic Challenge
According to an article that appeared in the China View, the challenge of creating graphics for the 2008 Olympics began three years ago in a country that really just discovered graphic design in the 80’s. The challenge was placed on the Art Research Center for the Olympic Games (ARCOG) at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).
The Olympics as a Brand
As graphic designers, we can only imagine the difficult task that graduates of CAFA were faced with in branding the 2008 Olympics. Not only did they have to brand the Olympics, they also had to somehow brand China as Olympic host as well. However, they had to do this while avoiding overly celebrating Chinese culture; it had to appeal to every culture in the world.
The Olympics Theme
The group at the ARCOG finally settled on a theme and design. For the representation of the 35 Olympic sports, they choose to use pictograms based on jingwen. Jingwen, according to the article, is the script found on 2,000-year-old bronze carvings.
For the Olympic core graphic, the team chose a wave pattern that was based on and inspired by traditional Chinese themes.
Apparently this task of spending three years working on the same project was so tedious, that many of the graphic designers dropped off the scene. Nevertheless, 20 designers hung in there and got the job done and are now moving on to working on the Beijing 2008 Paralympics.