Conversation with Vancouver 2010 Logo Designer, Gonzalo Alatorre

I also posted this on another blog that I write,

If you only read the newspapers and watched the news you may have thought that the 2010 Vancouver Olympics logo was developed solely by Elena Rivera MacGregor, owner and principle of Rivera Design Group who was mentioned several times as the logo’s designer in mainstream coverage of the launch. Today, I had a chance to talk with Gonzalo Alatorre currently of Evolutionary Images and Advertising about his role in the process of developing Ilanaaq, the emblem for the upcoming 2010 Olympic.

Official documents listed Alatorre as the designer, who was an employee of Rivera Design Group at the time of the logo’s development. However, in the days since Imagine 2010 and the logo launch most media outlets have focused their attention on Rivera MacGregor. In fact I’ve seen several whole articles that don’t even mention Alatore’s name. I called Alatorre today to find out what his role in the project was and how he felt about the media’s focus on Elena Rivera as the creator of the emblem.

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Logo Designer Gonzalo Alatorre

Gonzalo told me that the concept for the emblem was ‘independently developed’ by both Alatorre and Rivera simultaneously. Alatorre started with some mockups that he ran by Elena who was working with him on the project in the role of Project Manager and Creative Director. Alatorre’s idea was to create an identity that was representative of his experience as an immigrant to Canada with a specific focus on the first few years as he was learning the culture and people. He used the words warm and welcoming to describe the people and attempted to capture that spirit in his work.

He reviewed the designs with Rivera and she said that in principal they synced up with some thoughts she had been working on too and wanted to see if he could work some Haida elements and style into the concepts. Alatorre recalled that specific references to tribes and cultures such as the Haida were prohibited for some reason by the rules of the VANOC emblem design contest and after exploring design in that direction decided not to go that route.

”The media focus on Elena as the designer caught me by surprise. I was not very pleased that the media seemed to be ignoring my name. Especially in the first 3 days after Imagine 2010. But I’ve talked (with her) about it and she’s assured me she’s mentioning my name whenever she has conversations about the design and the process. It’s difficult to control the way the media and press tell a story and I was definitely a little surprised. But I get proper credit because I get to put the work in my portfolio and at the end of the day the people who matter know that I did it. It has become a bit of negative experience since the launch, but the process of developing the logo and having a shot at designing the Olympic logo and winning makes it a good experience and worth it.”

UPDATED: I just got a call from Gonzalo who saw this article today and got in touch to with me to say thanks and to let me know I got one thing wrong. It wasn’t the VANOC rules that prevented the the integration of Haida influence and style into Alatorre’s original concepts, but instead tribal rules that prohibit those who are not of Haida ancestry from working with the sacred Haida designs and symbols. Thanks Gonzalo for the correction, it’s been great talking to you and getting to know you through the process of pulling this together, and I wish you the best!