Design as an Olympic Ambassador

How do you communicate something effectively and concisely to people who don’t share a common language?

Don’t rely on language.

Mexico 1968 Olympics graphic design

Wyman’s Wordless Wayfinding

The fact that good design doesn’t always require words is especially relevant at a major international event like the Olympic Games, where visitors who speak dozens of different languages are trying to find their way around.

“A person who doesn’t speak the local language is just as illiterate in a strange country as someone who can’t read at all. We’re all illiterate if we don’t understand how information is presented.”

–Lance Wyman


It was on this foundation that the 1968 Mexico City Olympics graphic design team, lead by Lance Wyman, built a system of pictograms and color coding into the event branding.

Mexico Olympics branding

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Even with less translation, information became accessible to more people. You didn’t need to know Spanish or French or English, because coordinated tickets, signs, banners, and information kiosks would guide you to the right venue and all the way to your seat.

Mexico '68 Olympics ticket

“As Wyman says, ‘Graphic design became an important visual ambassador.’ […] The clear pictograms and distinctive colors […] helped to reinforce a sense of place and create a memorable Mexican identity.”

–Garry Emery


A Mark for a Modern Mexico

For all the non-verbal signage, the logo itself is the most text-focused of any Olympic City. The lines of the stylized “Mexico 68” were inspired in part by pre-Colombian Huichol art, yet the overall effect is mod 1960s.

Mexico 68 Olympics logo

“Has any design scheme so perfectly caught the graphic spirit of the times […] ? [Wyman and his collaborators] worked out a geometric fantasia of concentric stripe patterns that expanded to engulf a custom alphabet, groovy minidresses, and eventually entire stadia.”

Michael Bierut

Mexico Olympics dresses
Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Wyman went on to head up the design for Mexico City’s Metro, giving each stop its own pictogram.

Mexico Olympics branding

More information:

Mexico City Olympics 1968 branding

Images by Lance Wyman via Graphic Ambient.

Are you ready for the right time?

A big part of smart business is putting the right information in front of the right people at the right time.

Photographer Bradford Jones knew that taking portraits at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show would bring many potential clients right to him, and he wanted to take the opportunity to send them the right message. He contacted us to design stickers, postcards and signage with a polished, professional look reflecting his expertise. (His post about the event is on his blog.)

Postcard, sign and sticker designs for BJP.


Stickers: The stickers were designed to be versatile – used both at the show and afterwards on a variety of print packaging in a variety of sizes. We printed them in a size that would work well on the largest or smallest of them. Our design was simple and elegant with his logo on a light tan from his color palette that would contrast nicely against the black envelopes and boxes he uses.

Postcards: For the postcards, we stayed with a very clean look. We focused on Bradford Jones images, which we chose to represent a variety of different types of portraits. We made sure that the postcards were sized to be tucked in with print packaging and printed on quality paper stock.

Sign: We designed an eye-catching sign to direct visitors to the point of sale and outline the services Bradford Jones provides.

The pieces were done on a tight timeframe to make sure they were ready to make a great impression at the event.

We’d love to help you be ready to reach the right people too. Just reach out.


Go full color!

It used to be that color was a luxury with printed materials primarily in black and white and color doled out sparingly.

Times have changed, and so have print processes.

Color has become an affordable indulgence.

Sometimes our clients are concerned about the number of colors in banner or business card designs. But we can often offer full color printing for the same price as one-color – so we do.

For those projects, full color printing can be a brilliant solution.

Invitations to a storybook wedding


Fairytale weddings are overrated. Trying to orchestrate a perfect day in this imperfect world generally just stresses everyone out.

Katie Charland and Tyler Hurst got it right when they began planning a storied wedding – a laid-back celebration of community and a new chapter in their lives.

When it came time for the invitations, they already had a few of the pieces: beautiful textured agave paper and their silhouettes traced and cut out by an artist at a charity event


We incorporated the silhouettes into an elegant black and white design with a playful twist.

During brainstorming, I noticed that the word “tie” is in Katie’s name and the sound of the word (although not the spelling) is in Tyler’s. I thought about weddings and tying the knot, and made that play on words central to their design.


We echoed the silhouettes on the inside of the invitation. On the back, we carried the style over with a logo-like “t+k” and their wedding date. 

Finally, I set it all up in files that would be easy for them to print themselves.




Who knew calendars and aprons could make dreams come true?


Bold Avenue is making Robin Ray’s dream come true. (Her words!)

Robin is an artist, working in watercolor and ceramics and participating in the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour. During this event, Cave Creek-area artists open their studios to the public, displaying, selling and demonstrating their craft.

It has been Robin’s dream to reach a wider audience with her art – especially her whimsical watercolors of animals – by featuring it on items people can use.



The art of design

She was referred to Bold Avenue by her sister (one of our t-shirt clients), and, while she had some ideas about what she wanted, she was unsure of the best way to make it all happen. 

The good news? Making it happen is kind of our specialty.

We worked with her to find products that fit the bill: sturdy and roomy canvas shopping totes, wide aprons, and the right paper for her greeting cards (as well as a cost-effective way to print small quantities of 12 different card designs!). When a traditional calendar wouldn’t work, we designed a new calendar format for her.

For each product, we created designs that would keep the focus on her gorgeous artwork, while making it sure it fit each medium and giving it a finished look.


Calendars to keep forever

The biggest challenge came in making Robin’s series of calendar art – watercolors of Arizona animals with lessons to teach for each month of the year – into an actual calendar. 

Calendars, of course, are dated. And Robin was concerned about not selling all of her 2012 calendars before the end of the year. We didn’t want to do anything that would make the calendars less functional or her art too small, but we did need to make sure her investment would last beyond the next couple months. 

After meeting with Robin, brainstorming, and researching calendar formats, I came up with a way to feature Robin’s art on a reusable calendar. The art pages are all on the top half, which (similar to a regular wall calendar) you flip over each month to see the new page. On the bottom is a grid for the dates, which is dry erasable. Each month, you just flip the art page over, wipe off the old dates and write in the new ones. You can use it month after month, year after year. 

As Robin’s words on the cover say, it’s made to “take to heart and keep forever.”



Starting this weekend, you can see Robin’s art (originals, as well as calendars, cards, totes and aprons), along with the work of 144 other artists, on the self-guided Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour (Nov. 18-20, 25-27). You create your own tour route at



Getting a second look


Wendy’s just hung this giant (okay, 5.5″ x 17″) doorhanger on my front door. It made the doorknob look tiny. In addition to its unusual size – and in keeping with its breakfast theme – the doorhanger has an egg-shaped (rather than circular) hole.

Getting away from the standard size and expected format of your print piece might cost more, but it also might get your breakfast coupons (or brochure or business card or mailer) more attention.

Hey, it made me look twice!