I am a bit torn in my feelings for the Olympics this year. It is exciting for me to see the world’s athletes compete, but I still remember what happened in Tiananmen square in 1989, and how that event has seemingly been forgotten, as much of the subsequent human rights abuses since then, by the world’s media.
With that said, I have been thinking a lot of my own experience working on the design of the victory medal for the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake. I have posted on this before, but it has been a while, and I thought why not? The unique thing about the design of the winter games medal is that there is a lot more freedom. The summer games medal has to keep the same shape and keep the same design on the front of the medal, and keep whatever unique design within the pre-determined circle shape on the back of the medal.
I had the chance to truly collaborate with a team of designers, while working as an in house illustrator at Axiom design, on the medal and we all contributed to the final design.
We wanted to have the medal feel as if it was a found object in a riverbed, and some of our earlier designs reflected both this idea as well as the idea of the relation of humankind to nature. In the final design we incorporated this idea as the wedge that connects the ribbon to the irregular shaped medal. This line of thinking also led me to remember Michelangelo’s captive series, and when I worked on my illustration, I kept these in mind.
Another unique feature to the design of this medal was that there were fifteen different medal backs that reflected the fifteen disciplines that each of the sports in the winter games.
I still get excited when I see footage of the athletes from the 2002 games on the medal stand, and so far in my career it is one of those projects that will have life beyond most of what I do.