BEIJING 2022: TRADITION AND INNOVATION COMBINE FOR PICTOGRAM PERFECTION
Beijing capped an exciting year of preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Thursday with the release of the Games’ official sports pictograms, which were inspired by traditional Chinese seal engraving.
With some of the country’s top sports and entertainment celebrities in attendance, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022) unveiled the pictograms at a televised countdown party on New Year’s Eve, a major milestone in preparations with co-host city Zhangjiakou, Hebei province for the winter sports gala.
The set of 24 pictograms for the Olympic Winter Games identifies each of the disciplines across seven sports. However, freestyle skiing and snowboard have six and five icons respectively in order to represent the different equipment and courses used in these disciplines. Six symbols identify each of the sports at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
Designed based on traditional Chinese seal engraving, each of the pictograms depicts its respective event with unique strokes – like those carved with a knife on Chinese seals dating back to the Qin and Han dynasties. The pictograms embody both the motion of winter sports and China’s rich culture in modern graphics.
The sharp contrast between the red background and white strokes highlights the grace and dynamism of winter sports, and adds a festive vibe to the Games, which will echo the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2022.
“The release of the sports pictograms marks the progress in our preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 over the past year in a visually strong fashion,” said Gao Tian, deputy director of the Culture and Ceremonies Department of Beijing 2022.
“It’s another example of presenting time-honored Chinese art in a modern way and integrating the quintessence of Chinese culture into sports presentation on the Olympic and Paralympic stage.”
As one of the main graphic elements of the Games, pictograms are widely used in areas such as event signposting, advertising, communications, TV broadcasting and souvenir design. In addition to their traditional context, the sports pictograms must primarily function flawlessly as a simple, internationally understandable representation of the respective sport.
The newly released pictograms were developed in line with the style of the Games’ emblems, with both graphic elements designed by the same group led by Lin Cunzhen, an associate professor at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Drawing on inspiration from the Beijing 2008 pictograms, the 2022 version also incorporates the art of calligraphy.
“We designed these pictograms based on two principles – to stay consistent with the Games’ entire visual appearance and to echo the design used at the 2008 Summer Games to highlight Beijing’s unique status as the world’s only city so far to host both Summer and Winter Games,” said Lin, who is also an art director of the Culture and Ceremonies Department of the Beijing 2022.
The craft of engraving is better suited to portray the power and speed of winter sports than the smooth style of calligraphy used in 2008. It took the design team half a year to handle the challenge of depicting every sport distinctively, with hundreds of sketches drawn and countless modifications made, according to Lin.
Brainstorming with sports managers and international consultants from Beijing 2022’s Sports Department also contributed to the design with invaluable insights.
For example, the visual angle of the logo for speed skating was adjusted from the conventional sideline to the head-on angle, as per suggestions from the sports department to differentiate it from short-track speed skating and better capture the movement of athletes, explained Lin.
The design of the sports pictograms has earned a resounding thumbs-up from all the relevant International Federations (IFs), said Tong Lixin, head of Beijing 2022’s Sports Department.
“We followed their suggestions to make some adjustments to certain details, which put the icing on the cake,” Tong said of the feedback from the IFs.
“Eventually, all IFs approved the design with high praise for its innovation and unique Chinese style.”
The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 are scheduled to take place from Feb 4 to 20 in three venue zones – downtown Beijing, its northwest Yanqing district and Zhangjiakou, followed by the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games from March 4 to 13.