Vancouver Olympics: A Graphic Design Success, Aly Singh

Vancouver Olympics: A Graphic Design Success

In preparation for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, the skills of graphic designers and Vancouver locals Elena Rivera MacGregor and Gonzalo Alatorre were relied upon to create a fitting logo for the games. A task trusted upon them due to their win of a nation wide contest. Rivera MacGregor runs a prominent Vancouver design company and Alatorre is known as a recipient of a “lifetime achievement in applied arts award by the Government of Mexico” (Creative Engine). Their work for the 2010 games is a notably Canadian example of graphic design.  It is a symbol to be shared nationwide which portrays the strength, unity, and pride of all of Canada’s diverse regions. 

The unmistakable symbol of the Olympics is the five, multicoloured, interlocking rings dating back to 1912. The original design was created from the Stockholm Games by the French aristocrat and intellectual Pierre de Coubertin. These rings are symbolic of the five inhabited continents interlocking to represent the “universality of Olympism” (Glantz Design, 2019) which at its core is about nondiscrimination and inclusion. The never-ending circles represent continuity with the idea of welcoming the international community. This symbol can be considered a huge success of graphic design as it is both unchanged and widely recognizable more than a century later.  The host country for each Olympic games is tasked with creating its own individual logo that incorporates these Olympic rings. This

logo of the Olympics when first introduced
The Logo of the Olympics when first introduced in 1912 (The Olympic Rings, 2019).
The unchanged logo for the Olympic Games over a century later.
The unchanged logo for the Olympic Games over a century later (The Olympic Rings, 2019).

host logo should be simple yet distinctive as well as representative of the home country. 

The Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic design appears to fit the criteria of a simple yet striking and memorable logo. A country as large as Canada, with its ten provinces and three territories, 9.98 million square kilometres, and a population of over 37 million people, is difficult to portray all in one design. The chosen design is that of a multicoloured Inukshuk, which is “a traditional stone sculpture used by Canada’s Inuit people” (CBC news, 2005), sitting atop the writing ‘Vancouver 2010’ and the official Olympic rings. Although some argued that the use of the Inukshuk was cultural appropriation, it remains an important symbol of Canada’s Indigenous history and this ongoing pride shows the growth of our country. The different colours used in the stones of the Inukshuk were purposely chosen to indicate the different geography, climate and culture of such a vast country, in an effort to include the entire population. The green and blues represent the coastal forests, mountain ranges and islands, the red being a nod to the maple leaf, and the yellow representing the sun. Although difficult to represent the entirety of an expansive country like Canada, in the words of designer, Rivera MacGregor, it was concluded that “the Inukshuk was in fact one character that could pretty much tell the whole story” (CBC news, 2005). The Vancouver Winter Games in 2010 were considered a success both in Canada and abroad, the logo playing a part in this. This logo is distinct, memorable and truly Canadian, overall a graphic design success. 

Official Logo of the Vancouver Olympic Games, 2010
Official Logo of the Vancouver Olympic Games, 2010. Designed by Elena Rivera MacGregor and Gonzalo Alattore  (Kaste, 2010).


Works Cited

“A Symbolic Logo: History of Olympic Rings.” Glantz Design, 3 May 2019,

“Gonzalo Alatorre, Founder and Creative Principal.” Creative Engine,

Kaste, Martin. “Vancouver Olympic Logo: A Smiling Marker Of Death?” NPR, NPR, 18 Feb. 2010,

“Population Estimates.” Statistics Canada,

“The Olympic Rings.” International Olympic Committee, 31 Jan. 2019,

“Vancouver 2010 Logo Unveiled | CBC Sports.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 24 Apr. 2005,

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