I love the Olympics.
No. really. I absolutely adore the Olympics. Summer? Winter? Swimming? Skiing? Water polo? Curling? That one where they ski and shoot guns for no apparent reason? Yes. All of them. It doesn't matter to me. Just give me all the sports and fanfare all the time. As a result, for the next foreseeable future I will undoubtedly be glued to the TV watching a grandiose display of athleticism and patriotism with a dash (...huge dash...) of Morgan-Freeman-Visa-Commercial-esque corporately-curated feelings.
I'm in love.
To be fair, what I've never been particularly fond of is those weird mascots that the world never notices unless you are actually AT the Olympics. At best they're usually very odd and at worst they are the things of nightmares. Why do they even exist? (Probably just so they can sell plushies because let's be real, plushies of Michael Phelps might get a little weird...)
The logos however—that's a different story. Love them or hate them, they are guaranteed to spark some sort of reaction each year. (London 2012, anyone?) Do they ever actually represent "the spirit of the games" or the host country? Eh. There's a lot of them and I had never sat down and critiqued each and every one. I don't think I'd ever even seen all of them.
But Milton Glaser has. And his responses are brilliant. Given that tonight is the opening ceremonies for Rio, it is appropriate that AIGA took a logo heavyweight and asked him to rank marks from previous Olympics. (The only thing that could have made this better is if he awarded medals.) Highlights include:
- Lake Placid, 1932: "The typography is peculiar and unpleasant."
- Los Angeles, 1932: "A visual disaster."
- Garmisch-Partekirchen, 1936: "Banal and without any graphic intensity, but at least understandable."
- St. Moritz, 1948: "A curious solution that looks like a travel brochure cover."
- London, 1948: "This logo reveals that not all images will work together....The typography is sad."
- Melbourne and Stockholm, 1956: "Resembles a bookplate more than an Olympic event."
- Montreal, 1976: "Perhaps more appropriate for a manufacturer of paper towels."
- Albertville, 1992: "This design feels it's trying too hard."
- London, 2012: "Like all transgressions, this treatment causes controversy.
Take a look at the complete list and Glaser's commentary and then rate them yourself. (I for one loved Sochi...whatever, Mr. Glaser.)