graphic design

The History of the Olympic Pictograms

An amazingly articulate, informative, and insightful history of graphic design and our cultural history as it pertains to our beloved international meeting of the bodies, The Olympics.

Of all the instances in which graphic communication is necessary to transcend language barriers, the Olympic Games are, if not the most important, probably the most visible. We take the little icons of swimmers and sprinters as a given aspect of Olympic design, but the pictograms were a mid-20th Century invention—first employed, in fact, the last time London hosted the games, in 1948 (some pictographic gestures were made at the 1936 Berlin games, though their mark on international memory has been permitted to fade because of their association with Third Reich ideology).

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.

Pictograms for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic, designed by Katsumi Masaru (image: Virtual Olympic Games Museum) [Smithsonian blog]

Read more here, at the Smithsonian blog. Hat tip to BoingBoing for the original posting

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New Chris Ware publication: Building Stories

From Random House

After years of sporadic work on other books and projects and following the almost complete loss of his virility, it’s here: a new graphic novel by Chris Ware.

Building Stories imagines the inhabitants of a three-story Chicago apartment building: a 30-something woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple, possibly married, who wonder if they can bear each other’s company another minute; and the building’s landlady, an elderly woman who has lived alone for decades. Taking advantage of the absolute latest advances in wood pulp technology,Building Stories is a book with no deliberate beginning nor end, the scope, ambition, artistry and emotional prevarication beyond anything yet seen from this artist or in this medium, probably for good reason.