Olympukes 2012

In 2004 Jon Barnbrook’s foundry VirusFonts reinterpreted the Olympic pictogram in a series of designs that “acknowledged the complex contradictions of the modern Olympics.” Launching today, a new range of Olympukes symbols has been created to reflect on London 2012

In 2004 Jon Barnbrook’s foundry VirusFonts reinterpreted the Olympic pictogram in a series of designs that “acknowledged the complex contradictions of the modern Olympics.” Launching today, a new range of Olympukes symbols has been created to reflect on London 2012…

“The occasion of the London 2012 games gives us an opportunity to revisit this concept,” say the studio on their blog, “not only because VirusFonts is based in London but also much has changed globally in the last eight years.”

‘A’ from the Olympukes set: ‘Overzealous policing of Olympic name’

Acknowledging the commercialism inherent to the modern Olympics, Virus explain that the new Olympukes range also makes reference to the economic climate in which the Games are being staged. “Ironically, the last time London hosted the Olympics, they were nicknamed the Austerity Games,” the studio writes. “Sixty-four years later, we find ourselves back in an era of austere cuts which serves to highlight the absurd expense of the 2012 games.”

‘H’ from the Olympukes set: ‘Hypocritical sponsorship deals’

The hot potato of Games ‘security’ is also dealt with graphically. “What was a little more unexpected is the excessive security measures due to be employed by a supposedly liberal democracy,” say Virus. “But then again, in a country with an estimated 1.8 million CCTV cameras, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.”

Taken together the 2012 Olympukes look at the “complaints, controversies and accusations levelled at the London Games and associated events”, rendering some of the more familiar Games-related media stories in pictogrammatic form. One recurring theme addressed in the project is the militarisation of Olympic security, evoked in a general sense in the yellow graphic (above) and, more specifically, in the stationing of surface-to-air missles on various buildings in east London, as shown in blue (also above). The full set of 52 pictograms can be seen here.

Olympukes 2012 is available in dark and light weights in the multi-platform OpenType format. To download Olympukes 2012 visit the VirusFonts website and create an account (users will then be able to download the font for free). The 2004 series is also available here.


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CR in Print
The August Olympic Special issue of Creative Review contains a series of features that explore the past and present of the Games to mark the opening of London 2012: Adrian Shaughnessy reappraises Wolff Olins’ 2012 logo, Patrick Burgoyne talks to LOCOG’s Greg Nugent about how Wolff Olins’ original brand identity has been transformed into one consistent look for 2012, Eliza Williams investigates the role of sponsorship by global brands of the Games, Mark Sinclair asks Ian McLaren what it was like working with Otl Aicher as amember of his 1972 Munich Olympics design studio, Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder shows off some of his prize Olympic items from his vast archive, and more.

Plus, Rick Poynor’s assessment of this year’s Recontres d’Arles photography festival and Michael Evamy on the genius of Yusaku Kamekura’s emblem for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

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