London 2012 Olympic Pictograms

Check out the pictograms that will be used during the 2012 Olympics in London.  Can you identify each of the activities?  Are they easy to understand?  Do they meet the criteria required for an Olympic pictogram to be successful (as determined by Keith Bright and Associates, the designers who created the pictograms used at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics)?

Six criteria essential to a successful pictogram:

•Clear communication; pictograms, by themselves, should be recognizable by people of other nations.
•Consistency; the pictograms should be identifiable as a set, through uniform treatment of scale, style and subject.
•Legibility and practicality; they should be highly visible, easy to reproduce in any scale and in positive or negative form.
•Flexibility; the pictograms should not be dependent upon a border and should work equally well in a positive or negative form.
•Design distinction; the pictograms should avoid stylistic fads or a commercial appearance and should imply to a worldwide audience that Los Angeles has a sophisticated, creative culture.
•Compatibility; they should be attractive when used with their Los Angeles Olympic design elements and typestyles.
You can read more about pictograms at the 2012 Olympics here.
Take a look at the beautiful preliminary sketches below:


Olympic Pictograms Through The Ages

Great video from Steven Heller for the New York Times. It traces the use of pictograms at the Olympics. Check it out–which are your favorite??

Understanding Plastic…Through Infographics

According to

  • It is estimated that almost all of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials. The average proportion varied between 60% and 80% of total marine pollution.
  • In many regions in the northern and southern Gyres, plastic materials constitute as much as 90 to 95% of the total amount of marine debris.
  • Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in plastic pollution or ingest it.
  • According to Project Aware, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produces in the U.S. every year, and only 1 billion pounds are recycled. It is estimated that in excess of 38 billion plastic bottles and 25 million Styrofoam cups end up in landfill and although plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, on average only 20% are actually recycled.

The Plastiki has created some great infographs to further illustrate the perils of plastic:

Star Wars Retold With Icons

Not sure when Star Wars was renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

In any case, if you are already familiar with the movie, take a look at how easy it is to recognize each of the characters from their icons alone.  Each has been distilled down to their most basic shapes and forms, and all extraneous information has been removed.

If you are completely unfamiliar with the cast of characters, it would probably have been helpful if they included an icon legend (key).  Keep this in mind when you recreate the Twilight saga.  (Oops, did I forget to tell you that’s the final assignment in the class?  Kidding!)

Star Wars Icons

Click to see the entire movie…

Most Popular YouTube Videos, Iconified

How many of these do you recognize?


Click here to view a fantastic catalog of ISOTYPES designed by artist Gerd Arntz (1900-1988).

Per the website:

“We did our utmost to make Gerd Arntz’s work accessible for a large public, because it is part of our cultural heritage and we believe his work is of great importance for the world of contemporary visual communication.”