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Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages
February 25, 2010 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages In this four minute video, designer Steven Heller traces the evolution of the tiny symbols for each Olympic sport since their appearance in 1936.

I don't care what Steve says, Lillehammer's still my favorite.
posted by ocherdraco (25 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't agree with all his conclusions, but I sure enjoyed the presentation.
posted by yiftach at 2:52 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pretty cool plate of beans, but I wish it would conclude by showing us all of the pictograms so we could come to our own conclusions.
posted by meowzilla at 2:56 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just looking at the symbols for the now cancelled Islamic Solidarity Games yesterday and thinking how hard it is to work with a pegasus.
posted by tellurian at 3:01 PM on February 25, 2010 [17 favorites]


tellurian - those are fantastic. Currently, I'm taken by the Shooting Pegasus (not to be confused with Pegasus Shooting).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surprisingly entertaining! I would have liked to see a side-by-side comparison, though - there was too much zooming around for me to decide for myself which ones I enjoyed.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:11 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beijing 2008 and samplings of years past, Vancouver 2010, original versions for 2010 and a memorium for Leo Obstbaum, London 2012, and more discussions on the 2012 pictorgrams vs past interations.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:23 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just looking at the symbols for the now cancelled Islamic Solidarity Games yesterday and thinking how hard it is to work with a pegasus.

I am just going to quietly squee in the corner here.
posted by emeiji at 3:24 PM on February 25, 2010


I have just seen a Pegasus kicking another Pegasus in the face. My week is now complete. Thanks, tellurian.
posted by zjacreman at 3:33 PM on February 25, 2010


Lance Wyman's Mexico '68 icons. More on Wyman who has also designed wayfinding systems for the Mexico City subway & the national zoo in Washington, DC. He currently teaches at Parsons in NYC & if you are reading this and study there I suggest you stop reading this and run away quickly to sign up for one of his classes. Go on...shoo!
posted by i_cola at 3:34 PM on February 25, 2010


The best is how TAEKWONDO pegasuses have masks.
posted by smackfu at 3:37 PM on February 25, 2010


(Also Baltimore subway & Minnesota Zoo.)
posted by i_cola at 3:41 PM on February 25, 2010


So, on the Mexico ones, what are the two volleyball ones?

And the light green one? I think it's either basque pelota or field hockey, by elimination. Unless one of the volleyballs is for basque pelota?
posted by smackfu at 3:43 PM on February 25, 2010


The centre bottom (orange) is volleyball. The other one is water polo. Light green is field hockey.
posted by i_cola at 3:58 PM on February 25, 2010


i_cola: The one without the net is actually soccer. The pictogram for water polo is a ball above wavey water. (source: the Official Report for the '68 games. BTW, those Official Reports are a gold mine for amazing imagery from past games. Shame I can't link directly to cool images, they're giant PDFs.)
posted by zsazsa at 4:05 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Otl Aicher (Munich signage) used a strict grid system to design the logos. See this pic from this article. More in this article.

Enough now. This is my cirque de nerd so I will back out slowly & go & take the piss out of some computer dorks in another thread.

zsassa: Indeed. I assumed smackfu was mistaking the water for a net.
posted by i_cola at 4:14 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, this brings into light that the now-universal symbol for a soccer ball that we all know and love is a representation the Adidas Telstar, which was introduced in 1970 and featured high-contrast black-and-white coloring to show up prominently on television. Before the Telstar, balls were brown and constructed of rectangular panels like volleyballs and water polo balls.
posted by zsazsa at 4:15 PM on February 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


From 2004: Olympukes, still downloadable for free.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:20 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hadn't noticed until seeing it in the above link that the Vancouver hockey icon has a noticeable Jack Kirby perspective to the figure.
posted by aaronetc at 4:55 PM on February 25, 2010


I think he's right that the Munich ones are the gold standard, but I'm darned if I can figure out what the second one he shows is supposed to represent (1:30). Right arm angled up, left arm squared out and down, right leg bent at the knee against the left. Speed walking, maybe? There's none of the forward lean you'd associate with running.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:15 PM on February 25, 2010


The Karate pegasuses are the best thing I have ever seen. Wing-ed horse fight!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:19 PM on February 25, 2010


I don't care what Steve says, Lillehammer's still my favorite.

I agree with both of these clauses.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:04 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


All along, I've like how the Beijing pictograms evoked seal script.

But wow. Taekwondo pegasii with protective gear. Hard to beat that.
posted by adamrice at 6:08 PM on February 25, 2010


I think he's right that the Munich ones are the gold standard, but I'm darned if I can figure out what the second one he shows is supposed to represent (1:30).

This poster has a bunch of the Erco pictograms for the events within the sports disciplines, and the pictogram in question is in the Athletics section, between high jump and triple jump. So walking sounds right.

That poster showed me there are a lot more of them than the ones people are familiar with.
posted by smackfu at 6:21 PM on February 25, 2010


That was fascinating, thanks very much.
posted by Dim Siawns at 3:58 AM on February 26, 2010


I don't care what Steve says, Lillehammer's still my favorite.

I was also surprised that he didn't like Lillehammer's icons. They seemed to have blazed the trail of both Beijing and Athens.
posted by dearsina at 7:02 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


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