In order to further enhance public participation and enrich the artistic styles of posters, the Beijing Organising Committee launched a design competition of posters for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games during the Beijing Design Week on September 21, 2020.
One of the selected promotional posters titled Connecting the World by Enthusiasm was created by Zhang Sujun, a Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (SCFAI) student. The poster’s design adheres to the concept of a fantastic, extraordinary, and excellent Olympics takes sports as the theme and culture as the carrier. It uses the elements such as the Olympic rings, snowflakes, and the Chinese knot. It embodies China’s enthusiasm and hospitality and demonstrates the Olympic spirit of connecting the world and building a better world.
The simple design creates a strong visual impact: a large white Chinese knot on a bright red background. However, a closer look will lead to a secret world. The five circles at the core of the white Chinese knot happen to be in the colors of the Olympic rings, and the gradual design in the overlapping position makes people feel like the Olympic rings are “woven” into the Chinese knot; the five fringes below the Chinese knot are also in the colors of the Olympic rings; the knot is surrounded by eight symmetrically arranged white arrows pointing towards the Olympic rings, which are the symbol of snowflakes.
Lock together the Chinese knot and the Olympic rings
Zhang was surprised when the committee called in May 2021 to tell that her first draft was shortlisted.
The news also surprised her supervisor Yan Li, a postgraduate supervisor in creative cultural design at the Design College of SCFAI, because she thought that the lines of the Chinese knot were thin and there was hardly the interweaving effect in the first draft of the Chinese knot with the Olympic rings. “The idea is creative. However, the graphic language is weak, and the visual impact is not compelling…” Yan said that her advice was to make the lines thicker so that the Chinese knot and the Olympic rings would appear locked together. The symbol of snowflakes was added later.
From the beginning, Zhang wanted to design a work that would reflect traditional Chinese culture. The ideation only took her about 20 minutes. “There is a possibility of combing the interlaced Chinese knot and the interlocking Olympic rings.” Zhang revised the draft more than ten times before the announcement of the 11 selected promotional posters.
Finally, the work managed to stand out. A total of more than 100 design institutions and art design colleges and universities across the country had contributed 1,565 entries for the design competition, according to the committee. After several rounds of evaluation, further modification, and duplicate checking, 11 excellent design works, including Connecting the World by Enthusiasm, were selected.
Not allow scam ads but train students by participating in competitions
“The selection is also an educational result of our adherence to the integration of enterprises, universities, and research institutes.” Unlike traditional fine art majors, the design major is market-oriented, so she usually doesn’t allow her students to produce scam ads or design works that can’t satisfy the market demand. The success also strengthens her determination to guide students in market-oriented creation.
Yan led her students to form a team after the committee announced the solicitation. “Our goal is not to win the prizes but to train the students by participating in the competition,” said Yan.
In her opinion, such solicitation usually has relatively detailed rules and highly market-oriented requirements. Under her supervision, the students submitted a total of 15 drawings. Although only one was selected, she thought it was worthwhile. “This is a great way to improve students’ design skills.”
As the Beijing Winter Olympics is approaching, those selected promotional posters will appear more and more frequently in crowded places, such as large business areas and transportation hubs, including airports and high-speed rail stations.
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