Lance Wyman on using lockdown as a time to revisit and reflect

As the designer begins organising his archive, he has been sharing process shots and personal anecdotes with his Instagram followers along the way. Here, Wyman tells CR why our strange new reality is the perfect opportunity to look back at both the good and the bad

Looking back over Lance Wyman’s lengthy career, it’s clear that reflection has always played a big role in his creative process. Now aged 82, the New York-based designer has completed over 140 visual identity projects and counting, and is widely celebrated for helping to define the field of environmental graphics over the last five decades.

Wyman’s emphasis on research is evident from one of his most famous designs, the 1968 Mexico Olympics identity, which was partly inspired by the ancient artefacts he unearthed during a series of trips to the country’s Museum of Anthropology. The project then came full circle when he was commissioned to work on the visual identity for the Tlatelolco Museum in 2014. The icon, which reincarnates the Olympics logo alongside a dove symbol, serves as a memorial to the Tlatelolco massacre, which saw hundreds of peaceful protestors killed by the military in the same year as the Olympics.

In recent years, Wyman has also worked on a number of projects looking back at the importance of the creative concept. His 2014 retrospective at Mexico City’s contemporary art museum, MUAC, examined his impact on the visual identity of urban life in Mexico through the lens of his creative process. And in 2016, Unit Editions published a book of the designer’s distinctive ‘visual diaries’ from 1973-1982 (he has 107 of them to date), featuring hundreds of rough drawings, notes to self, records of conversations, photographic references and other forms of ephemera.

While Wyman is still active as a designer today, the coronavirus pandemic has unsurprisingly thrown a bit of a spanner in the works when it comes to his day job. He had already started going through his expansive archive prior to the outbreak, but it took the world going into lockdown to give him the time and energy he needed to fully throw himself into it. One of his regular collaborators, Deduce Design’s Andy Butler, then convinced him to make the project public by sharing his findings on Instagram.