BC design club president comments on Olympic mascots; sales brisk

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wikinews recently spoke with Mark Busse, president of the BC Chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, to find out what his organization's views are of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi.

Many people love them. Obviously some don't. Kids seem to adore them. But as a professional designer, I am trying to keep an open mind and try to consider the big picture and audience before judging them too quickly.

The mascot design was a very difficult problem for the VANOC 2010 planning committee — and a very important project with lots at stake. Unlike during the original logo competition, VANOC chose to not engage in an open, speculative contest, but rather came to the Society of Graphic Designers for assistance and guidance, followed our recommendations and engaged in a thorough, thoughtful, fair and comprehensive design competition and process. They had our full cooperation and support and we encouraged all GDC members to participate.

I would have likely designed something different, although I had suggested using BC mythology, such as a Sasquatch, to capture the imagination of a predominantly young international audience. But I think the result of VANOC's careful design process is a solution that captured BC's spirit, culture, attitude, geography, wildlife, athleticism — even mythology — in a clever and friendly way. Quatchi, Miga and Sumi are respectful of BC aboriginal heritage without alienating all Canadians.

While the products at HBC stores of the mascots have been flying off the shelves, many have bashed the designs for having "too much" of a Japanese influence. As of 2001, 1.5% of Vancouverites were Japanese heritage, and 29.9% were of Chinese descent. Vancouver's Chinatown is one of the largest historic Chinatowns in North America, and Japan has had diplomatic relations with the city since 1930.

This is the first time the Olympic and Paralympic mascots have been unveiled at the same time.

Busse is also a partner and the design director at Industrial Brand Creative, a design firm in the province. He is co-chair of Graphex '08, a design exhibition at the Emily Carr Institute, which "showcases the best cultural, social and business communications in Canada."


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.