2012 Olympic Posters: First impression

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Six promotional posters have been revealed for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. I took a look at them and had the worst first impression I could have had.

“These are terrible!”

Not the kind of “terrible” that would make a designer shake his or her head for want of, say, tighter typography. The kind of “terrible” that makes me lose faith in the Olympic design committee for seeming so out of touch with the public.

Now, I believe that there are plenty of things about these posters that people should aspire to understand, such as the aesthetic beauty of the brushtrokes in Hodgkin’s “Swimming” or the double meaning in Rachel Whiteread’s “LOndOn 2O12” (my favorite, incidentally.) It’s their function as posters that ultimately fails, because they take too long to register in the viewer’s mind. The gut reaction of many readers over at Creative Review is that the posters look lazy and communicate nothing about the games unless one views the very finely-printed information at the bottom of the sheet.

Posters should communicate their ideas quickly, and should also stand on their own in case someone wants to take a longer, more insightful look. While designers and artists alike hope that their works will be given a long consideration, going out to admire an ad is something that most people almost never consciously do. Perhaps after repeated exposure and time these posters will linger in the viewer’s memory, but it’s extremely important to never forget that first impression. Posters don’t have placards or the artist next to them to explain the work; the meaning should be evident and attractive from the start.

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