You are on page 1of 1


The Olympic Games have played a special role in the history of the pictogram. They were
the intitial impetus behind the creation of international pictorial signs. Examples are
from the Summer Olympics as those sports tend to be the best known.

Los Angeles
Mexico City







The first pictorial signs for After the 1936 Berlin In 1964, the Olympic The pictograms for the In addition to the high Four years after the West In 1985, the Seoul Olym- The pictograms used at The Atlanta pictograms Four years after the The thirty-five pictograms TThe pictographs for the
The designer Otl Aicher *The Canadian Olympic
sport were devised by the Olympics, owing to the Games were held for the 1968 Mexican Olympics costs of the rights to Otl had boycotted the pic Committee commis- the Barcelona Olympics brought to an end the naturalistic pictograms of designed for the Athens 2008 Beijing Olympics
followed the example of Committee acquired the
1936 Olympics in Berlin. Second World War, the first time in an Asian were also designed for an Aicher’s pictograms, the Moscow Olympics, the sioned the graphic were also heavily influ- run of geometrical, Atlanta, Sydney returned Olympics were inspired by include 35 icons, repre-
the Japanese in dispens- rights to the pictogram
Many of the achievements next Games did not country, with Asian international West’s boycott East took its revenge designer Buyong enced by Otl stereotyped forms of to abstract elements senting each of the
ing of any individual style system designed by Otl
and innovations of those take place until 1948 and signs. Since the Japanese audience, but they used a of the Moscow Olympics with its own boycott of Hwang to design a new Aicher, whose work symbol. They harked back symbols. As with the of Ancient Greek civiliza- sports in the 2008
of pictorial language for Aicher for the 1972
games are unfortunately were hosted by London. have a totally different completely different prevented these symbols the Los Angeles Games. series of pictograms, provided the basis for to the ancient figures Barcelona design, the tion. The depiction of the summer Games. The
his Olympic pictograms, Munich Olympics and
associated with the Nazi Once again pictorial system of lettering, it was visual language to those – now firmly established – Once again, Otl Aicher’s which were used for the designer Josep M. Trias’s seen on Corinthian and body was composed of athletes themselves drew designs, named ‘the
instead using stereotyp- used it in the 1976
swastika, and no one has images were used essential to of the Tokyo from being influence on the picto- 1986 Asian Games. new pictogram system. Attic vases. three elements – head, inspiration Beauty of the Seal’ are
ing and systematization Montreal Olympics
ever been keen to draw for all the different sports. find an alternative Olympics four years used a third time. gram system was very There were, however, a However, Trias changed Their degree of iconicity arms and legs – and again from the black-figure vases based
to reduce the motifs to an without any modifica-
attention to them. They By being framed in a sort method of communica- earlier. Instead of illustrat- strong, although there few problems when it the strict geometrical was therefore consider- the trunk was left out. typical of Ancient Greece. on the strokes used for
almost idealized abstrac- tions.
were, however, the very of shield these images tion that was independent ing the athletes in action, In the 1970’s, a young were clear differences. came to the Olympics. In structure of the symbols ably higher than that of However, the depiction of Scratched white lines were seals, which were widely
tion. used in inscriptions on
first Olympics to be took on the of language and designers In 1967, Otl Aicher was architecture student from The aim 1976, the Canadian in favour of a freer, their predecessors. The the arms and legs differed used on the figures to
televised, and in terms of aura of a coat of arms, culture. Masaru Katsumi Manuel Villazón and Lenningrad, Nikolai was to individualize the Olympic Committee had brushstroke form, which representation of the a great deal from the bring out specific details bones and bronze vessels
commissioned as the in ancient China some
organization this was an although they did not was appointed to devise a Matthias Goeritz symbol- official designer for the Belkov, designed a highly abstract stereotype acquired the rights to Otl reduced the human body body in silhouette was Barcelona figures. Instead and define the black
unprecedented feat. Part follow any particular totally new pictorial ized the various sports by series of pictorgrams for by varying the details. The Aicher’s pictograms, and to three elements: head, essentially true to nature of Picasso-style brush- bodies. Cycladic marble 3,000 years ago. Four
1972 Munich Olympics. design institutes were
of the preparation system – sometimes system to means of the relevant The visual uniformity of the individual Olympic bodies of the athletes they forbade the use of arms and legs. The trunk and incorporated far work, the arms and legs statues were also a clear
consisted of developing a they showed the appara- indicate the different apparatus. This gave the sports as part of his final were composed of Buyong Hwang’s work on was omitted altogether more physical features, took the shape of the influence on the design, asked to
the different modes of submit designs for the
system of pictograms. tus, at other times the sports. Since then, picto- pictograms a more communication – logos, examination. individual forms, and the grounds but could be visualized in but the form tended to boomerang used by with their elegant and
Visually minimized and athletes themselves, grams have been a striking impact as the Like the series used in head, trunk, arms and legs that it was too similar to the white space between lose some of its impact as Aboriginal Australians – a dynamic forms. Even the pictographs by the
colors, dress, outfits, organization committee
systematized, the picto- either partial or permanent design feature apparatus information and advertis- Tokyo, Munich, and were not Aicher’s. The Seoul the black strokes. a result. It is interesting to large boomerang for the format of the pictograms
grams were highly complete.. in these quadrennial alone generally required Montreal, these adhered actually joined together. Olympic Committee note that in Atlanta a legs and two smaller was derived from ancient in March of 2005. ‘The
ing material – presented Beauty of the Seal’, by the
abstract and extremely games.. fewer details, making the an image of these to a strict concept. As in Aicher’s pictograms, decided that Buyong completely new form of versions for the arms. history, using uneven
graphic. It was not the form more compact and Each pictogram consisted the structure was system- Hwang should design an symbol was used for the shapes to resemble shards China Central Academy of
Olympics that is still Fine Arts, finally won out.
sporting action itself that closed. However, for recognized today all over of a black background in atic, but the entirely new series, pentathlon. Since 1972 found in archaeological
provided the symbolic subsequent Olympics, the world. the form of a square with design drew more atten- which he did. the symbol had been a excavations.
motifs, but the apparatus with an increasing The pictograms provided rounded tion to the figure. For rider with five dots, but
used. A uniform pictorial number of sports in the visual markers. The corners, pierced by the example, even when the for the Atlanta Games the
language thus emerged program, the apparatus stereotyped, idealized white silhouette of the leg was outstretched, the rider was replaced by a
from this systematic use alone could not provide representation of the athletes. The rounded calf was still distinguish- runner and the individual
of motifs together with a enough distinctive different sports, through a corners of the square able and, like the arms, sports were represented
thick ring in the back- features, and it was system that was as were echoed by the was conical. The athlete’s by a flower with five
ground, which gave the commonly felt that the consistent as an alphabet, uniform and systematic bodies were conveyed by petals.
individual sports a athletes rather than their made a tremendous rounding of the figures’ filled shapes, in formal
common denominator. equipment should be the impact with its basic, limbs. In 1980, Belkov’s contrast to their appara-
focal point. minimized geometrical pictograms were taken up tus, which was depicted
forms. and used in the Moscow exclusively through lines.
Olympics’ corporate

You might also like