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Highlights ... ...
Logo seal of approval
( 2003-08-04 09:59) (China Daily)

Many consider the Chinese seal "the best of Chinese arts."

Carved within a limited space on the end of a small stone, a Chinese seal blends the elements of engraving, calligraphy, painting and poetry.

Today, the "artwork" and the ritual of printing it has been turned into the logo of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, to be released on Sunday night at Beijing's Temple of Heaven.

It's called "Chinese Seal - Dancing Beijing."

Special design

"Young, dynamic - bringing together historical and cultural heritage, as well as the future of China" were the words that Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), used to describe the logo.

The original design for the logo was selected from 1,985 entries contributed by designers from China and overseas.

Jin Shangyi, one of the 11 leading experts from home and abroad on the selection panel, said: "In an almost perfect way, the design blends the features of China and Beijing with Olympic elements.

"It also combines very well the heritage, the images of modern Beijing and China, and the solemn commitment of Beijing and China to the world, the future and the Olympics," said Jin, who is a famous oil painter and chairman of the Chinese Artists Association.

Scott Givens, who is currently the managing director of the Creative Group for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and one of the four international judges on the selection committee, said: "I was drawn to the spirit and vitality represented by the logo image. Rooted in the past, but representing a warm and welcoming future, this emblem has complex meaning, yet is simple to the eye. In particular, I am struck by the bright use of red as its dominant colour."

The main and upper part of the logo is the shape of a Chinese seal with red background and white lines separating the space. The lines are drawn to resemble the Chinese character "Jing" (Beijing, capital) and also look like a running human figure with arms outstretched, as if in a dance of welcome.

The second part of the design consists of the words "Beijing 2008" handwritten in the traditional Chinese calligraphic style of "Hanjian," a style often seen in bamboo strips of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220). The calligraphy creates an interesting interaction and contrast to the English letters, representing a dialogue between cultures.

The shape of the seal and the red reflect the thousands of years of China's civilization and create an atmosphere of happiness and peace, according to Jin.

"The image that is reminiscent of both the Chinese character 'Jing' and a dancing figure conveys the message that today's China is not only a nation with a long and glorious history but also is full of modern dynamics. It conveys friendliness, sincerity and hospitality as well.

"The running human figure also represents the spirit of Olympics (faster, higher, stronger) by focusing on the dynamics of the athletes," Jin noted.

New baby

The newborn brainchild is a joint effort by experts and designers, based on the original design by Beijing Armstrong Visual Identity Corp (AVIC).

AVIC President Zhang Wu, who led the company's design team for the logo for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, said: "A Chinese designer could not miss the great opportunity to bid for the logo design for the first Olympics to be held in China. Luckily our design was selected."

Another team member Guo Chunning, who used to be a designer at the advertising department of China Daily and is now the vice-president of the company, said the designers were inspired by the words of He Zhenliang, the veteran Chinese sports diplomat and member of the Executive Board of IOC.

"He said the spirit of the Olympics has actually existed in China for 5,000 years.

But how to combine traditional Chinese culture with sports visually turned out to be a great challenge.

"We finally got this one," said Guo, "by using the traditional symbol of Chinese seal, as it personifies the Chinese character, and creates a new image of Beijing."

It also expresses China's commitment to host one of the best Olympics in history, he said.

The elements of traditional Chinese arts in the design remind viewers of the popular logo used when Beijing was bidding the 2008 Olympics, although the two designs look totally different.

With a few strokes of Chinese cursive script, the calligraphic lines of the bid logo stood out because of its energy and enthusiasm, mirroring China's desire to host the Olympics.

In contrast, the game logo shows China's serious commitment to the event.

According to Jiang Xiaoyu, vice-president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), it is customary internationally to design a game's logo for the Olympiad rather than continuing to use the bid logo.

Selective process

The work of selecting a new design for the 29th Olympiad, which will take place in Beijing from August 8-24, 2008, started immediately after Beijing's victory in the bidding process was announced on July 13, 2001.

On July 2, 2002, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Design Conference opened at the Beijing International Convention Centre, officially starting the game logo design competition. More than 600 leading designers from all over the world joined the conference.

The BOCOG also sent out invitations to compete to more than 1,500 professional designers globally to solicit a design for the Beijing Olympics.

Liu Qi, BOCOG president and now Party secretary of Beijing, announced: "For the design of the image and look of the Beijing Olympics, our goal is to create a unique image that is rich in oriental wisdom and also demonstrates to the world the great appeal of the Olympics.

"We hope the designs convey a new feeling for the Olympic Games, the historic and humanistic spirit of Beijing and China, the theme of 'New Beijing, Great Olympics' and the concept of a Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and People's Olympics," Liu said.

By October 8, 2002, the deadline for entries, the BOCOG had received 1,985 works, among them 1,763 by designers from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The remaining 222 candidates came from the United States, Japan, Australia and other countries.

In November 2002, the experts committee selected the top 10 designs. The judges unanimously gave the highest scores to work No 1498, the original design of the game's logo.

Chang Sha'na, former president of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, said: "It was very difficult for us to decide from the almost 2,000 candidates. For us, the process of selecting the logo was itself a process of learning, to think and to understand. It seems that our foreign colleagues in the committee were clearer about what we needed, that was something very Chinese."

According to Chang, among the choices were some other very impressive designs with Chinese cultural symbols such as clouds, the cursive script of "Dragon," and images of the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, and sun, moon and mountain.

"But No 1498 was certainly the most special in style and with greatest meaning, although the original design itself was still not perfect," Chang said.

After the original design was selected, experts were invited to discuss and revise the design with its creators, among them artists Han Meilin and Wang Yong. The design also absorbed the opinions from officials in the BOCOG such as Liu and Jiang.

"This is our final choice," remarked Chen Hanmin, a professor and veteran designer from the College of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University in Beijing. On February 28, 2003, Li Lanqing, the then vice-premier in charge of the country's sports affairs who represented China at the nation's bid in Moscow right before Beijing was awarded the games by the IOC, approved the final revised version.

A month later, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, approved the design in a very Chinese way - he printed his own Chinese seal and signed below the copy of the logo that he called "perfect and poetic."

In August 2008, when the 29th Olympiad opens, Beijing will open its arms and welcome people from all over the world for a dance party, a carnival of sports and culture.

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