History of Olympic pictograms

 Design Files 2012 07 Mexico1968

Smithsonian traced the history of the Olympic pictograms. Illustrations to represent the Olympic competitions were first used in 1948 to communicate across languages. (The pictograms above were designed by Lance Wyman for the 1968 Mexico Olympics.) From Smithsonian:

The 1948 London pictograms were not a system of communication so much as a series of illustrations depicting each of the competitive sports, as well as the arts competition, which existed from 1912 to 1952 and included architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. In 1964, the Tokyo games took pictogram design to the next level by creating a complete system of typography, colors and symbols that would be applied across Olympic communications platforms.

"The History of the Olympic Pictograms"


    1. That video was just too quick. “Look at this exquisite design. Blink and you’ll miss it”

  1. Beautiful, I clearly remember those exact symbols from growing up in Mexico.  At the time of Montreal 76, a  scrapbook and series of Summer Olympics cards with special emphasis on Mexico City 68 became the craze.  There were several categories of cards:  Ancient Greece events (depth jump a particular favorite of mine), modern Olympic cities, modern Olympic events, their Mexico City 68 symbols, etc.

    There were bikes to be won all over Mexico, for whoever turned in a completed scrapbook, and as with baseball cards, some were rarer than others.  Obviously, repeats were traded among friends.

    Here’s the thing:  there were three special cards (let’s say “Fencing symbol”, “lighting of the Olympic flame” and “artistic rendition of Grass Hockey”) with an Olympic seal in the back, and a filled scrapbook had to have those three special cards.  However, not all “Fencing symbol” cards had the seal, so if you bought a pack of cards, and it was there!… but no seal on the back, well thank you for playing and please try again.

    Extensive Googling turned up no images nor info on this scrapbook, bummer.  At least I tried.

  2. There used to be an Olympic Arts competition? I wish there still was. (In the time it took me to figure out how to sign back in to disqus, I remembered the Monty Python Thomas Hardy novel-writing sketch and realized the truth though.)

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