The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Interview with Lance Wyman

Lance Wyman is an American graphic designer, born in New Jersey in 1937. He is known for such work as the logo of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, the 1970 Mexico World Cup, the Mexico City Metro System logo and the route map of the Washington Metro. The Washington Post have described Lance as a “rock star or graphic arts”.

 

Interview carried out by email by Jack Little in October 2012. Published in Issue 23.

1. Why are symbols important in the functioning of society?

Symbols communicate many things very effectively. They take up less space than words and cut across language barriers. They help navigate our cities and our computers. They communicate ideas and feelings at a glance. They have been a means of visual communication since we started communicating and we are still learning how to design and use symbols. 

 

 

2. One of your most famous works was the design for the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. You have mentioned before in previous interviews that this design was based on the indigenous graphic environment. Can you tell us more about your research process for this particular project?

Growing up in New Jersey and New York I didn't learn much about Mexico history and culture. When I came to Mexico in 1966 and started working on the 1968 Olympic graphics I had a lot to learn in a short period of time. It was a competition and I had two weeks to come up with a logo idea or go home. I spent every moment I could in the Museum of Anthropology and completely fell in love with the design work accomplished in the early Mexican cultures and by the folk art still being created throughout Mexico. I designed the Mexico68 logo based on the visual character and strength of these geometric forms and on the energy of the Op Art movement that was happening in the 60's. The Mexico68 logo was of its time in the 60's and is a reminder today of Mexican culture and a great Olympics.

 

3. As well as the emblematic 1968 Olympics logo, you also designed the logo for the Mexico City metro system and for the 1970 Mexican World Cup. With a quick google search it is obvious that you have many fans of your work in Mexico! Do you feel a special connection with the country?

I feel a very special connection to Mexico. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on the projects you mention. Those experiences helped me find my way as a designer to establish a long successful career. As I have been working out of my studio here in New York for the past 41 years I love to come to Mexico to work on projects,  give talks to students, and be with friends. Mexico will always be in my heart.

 

4. What role does “sensitivity” have in the process of design?

Sensitivity plays a major role in the design process. Design is problem solving so it is vital to be sensitive to context and specific issues when starting a project. Sensitivity is extremely important when imaging and refining a concept into a final design. Whether you work by hand or on a computer it is the degree of sensitivity you apply that creates the final form. A minute insensitive variation can destroy a design the same way a misplaced word can destroy a poem.    

 

5. What does the future hold for global graphic design?

Technology is changing the form and impact of graphic design as we speak. I see designers playing an important role as we harness the new technologies to empower our communication concepts. We are learning how to interact and talk to each other beyond our current language restrictions.

 

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You can see more of Lance's designs at his site: http://www.lancewyman.com/