Today was the unveiling of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic mascots. Featured on just about every local newspaper in town, the simplistic and cartoony characters were no doubt a hot topic of discussion for those following the games. Is this what will be representing Vancouver?
After a call for artists to submit proposals -- in which 177 artists responded to the call -- Meomi Design was selected. Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi the Aboriginal-inspired characters designed by a local artist Vicky Wong of Meomi Design, look like they could be mistaken for something found at a toy store in Chinatown, or Asian stationary shop like Sanrio. They aren't exactly unique. In what is supposed to be characters based on First Nations' legends, these characters don't resemble anything aboriginal. The art style is distinctly Asian and looks as if it could be quickly done with a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Flash.
The cute designs appeal to all children, and no doubt will make for great merchandise. But in terms of representing Vancouver, that is debatable. The artistic style commonly thought of as being uniquely Asian, reflects Vancouver's large Asian population, a demographic which continues to grow as we approach the Olympic games itself. These designs appeal to the Asian market. Yet they miss the boat in terms of conveying Aboriginal characters. The characters are neither memorable or unique, and could blend in with any cutesy design in stores. The style itself could have been pushed to take on some characteristics seen in aboriginal art. That would have been better artistically.
If it wasn't for the Olympic Logo slapped on the characters, would you be able to tell these creatures are from aboriginal legends? Probably not.