As I write, the 2012 London Olympics are in full swing. Prior to the opening ceremonies, a tremendous amount of work has gone into the promotion of the games. Photographers, graphic designers, illustrators and film makers, to name a few, have been employed to create the visual presentation. Early in my career, way back in 1995, I was contacted by McCann-Erickson Atlanta to create images for the Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay. It was my biggest job to date and I was thrilled that they admired my work enough to hire little ol’ me. Near complete creative freedom was given as long as the Olympic rings, the Coca-Cola script logo and the words “1996 Olympic Torch Relay” were used. Oh, and they were emphatic about avoiding “Pepsi blue” in the color scheme. After receiving approval for the pencil sketches, these images were done in airbrush and acrylics on illustration board. This was few years prior to owning a computer and learning Photoshop and Illustrator. If I only had those tools at my disposal!
The image on the left is very Art Deco and reminiscent of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, although that wasn’t my intention. The middle image was the most successful and was used for posters sold at venues promoting the torch relay. The image on the right was rejected as a poster because it appeared too dark overall. They told me that it looked like the “hand of God” was reaching down to take the torch. Well, that’s what sometimes happens when facing a tight deadline with no time to make alterations, especially when working in a traditional medium like airbrush and acrylics. It would have been much different if working digitally.
Coke used two of these images on t-shirts. It was pretty cool when I saw a guy on TV wearing the shirt with the flag and two torches.
The ominous image with “the hand of God” may have failed as a poster, however, they loved the idea of the “Ameriscape” with various regional icons. The design was incorporated into a collectible pin. The two torch image was also made into a collectible pin.
In retrospect, this early job gave a boost to my budding career. Working on a high-profile job under a very tight deadline forced me to grow. It was cool to be part of the Olympic promotion and it was a great addition to my portfolio.