There was an interesting report on NPR today about the history of Olympic pictograms, the special sets of custom international symbols used to help people from many different linguistic backgrounds find their way around the Olympics and identify things like sports venues and restrooms. There is a long history of specialized graphic design associated with the olympics and the fonts used to publicize and promote the event.
Historically these pictogram icons have been rendered as fonts. An early example from the 1968 olympics in Mexico City can be seen to the right. To the left is the most recent example from the current games in Sochi, Russia. Most olympics also have custom logo font, custom text or title fonts and even fonts featuring their mascot. These often get much more publicity than the symbol fonts, which are ubiquitous and essential to the games, but not as high profile.
While we’ve never been fortunate enough to be called on to design an olympic font – at least not yet – we’ve had a little practice along the same lines. Some years ago we were called on to design a similar font for the Field Day event at a local private school, with symbols representing the different sports and activities featured at the event. The result is our Field Day font. It’s a simple and pretty straightforward rendering of the concept. You can see samples to the right. If it catches your fancy you can order it at our online store.