Urban Icons by Lance Wyman
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In Story: We Produce – The Production Company we like share the work of the designer Lance Wyman. Lance Wyman (B.1937, Newark, NJ, USA) is a graphic designer specializing in systems for cities, events, institutions and transit systems. Over the past 5 decades he has helped to define the field of environmental graphics. His graphic design for the 1968 Mexico Olympics identity is widely celebrated as a pinnacle of environmental and branding design. He teaches corporate and wayfinding design at Parsons where he has been a visiting lecturer since 1973.  
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  Emmet Byrne: I’d love to hear a little bit of the backstory. What exactly did the Olympic Committee task you with? Lance Wyman: The International Olympic Committee presented us with a simple brief: create an identity that incorporated the five-ring Olympic logo and used the host country language, Spanish, as well as French and English for all publications and signs. The brief from the Mexican Olympic Committee was equally simple, coming directly from Chairman Pedro Ramírez Vázquez: “Create an image showing that the games are in Mexico that isn’t an image of a Mexican wearing a sombrero sleeping under a cactus.” It was a daunting challenge, and in some sense, a very open-ended assignment. I traveled to Mexico with Peter Murdoch and my wife of two months, Neila, to participate in a competitive arrangement—we had two weeks to come up with something, and if we didn’t, we would go home. It didn’t help, in terms of stress, that all we could afford were one-way tickets to get down there. Peter and I worked 12 or more hours every day and stayed up all night discussing the possibilities at the Hotel Montejo in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa. Every night poor Neila had to listen to our panic as time started to run out and we hadn’t hit on anything. This was in November 1966, less than two years prior to the Games.
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  Visual icons have always been with us. It wasn’t too far back that they were considered mostly as communicators for people who were illiterate. Now that they function so well indexing our digital devices they have proliferated and are accepted as communicators for all of us. I think they operate pretty much the same helping us navigate our virtual and real space. They take up less space than words and they can be a common language, no translations needed.