Olympics ... what happened to the font ?

vincent_connare's picture

Back in 2000 Gerry Leonidas was up for the Olympic font and me the typographic enginner.. it went pear shapped and I guess they didn't do the font OR DID THEY? Anyone know if there was a font commissioned finally?

GO TEAM GB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


matt_c's picture

that would have been a typographic "dream team" :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

If in doubt, use Gill...

Says the Greek chars we're re-drawn or modified by an Athens based Agency - no mention of Gerry's invovlement.

Cheers, Si

vincent_connare's picture

A link from the Microsoft Typography news page say's a nonce and pervert's font is the Olympic font...

Talk about bad type 'what does an old english guy's font have to do with the Olympics in Greece?'


miles's picture

The design agency behind much of what you see is called Red, but I havent found a link for them.

piccic's picture

Miles, I don't understand what "Red" has to do with this, but if things are like they say, the Greek Gill Sans mentioned was designed by a colleague of Panos, Hector Haramboulos.

And it would be pretty unfair to merely consider Cannibal "an Athen-based agency". They did many good and some excellent Greek interpretations of many Monotype, FontFont and Emigre fonts, and they are the leading Greek label, I think. Although I'm not so enthusiastic by Haramboulos' Gill Hellenic (I have a copy sent me by Panos and I have the Monotype version I bought as well), the design already existed. If there was someone to choose (in Greece) for the task, it could not have been none other than Cannibal, I suspect.

If you wish to see better and subtler work by Cannibal, you may look at the great Greek version of Fedra (developed by Panos Haratzopoulos with Peter Bilak) or to the classic but unusual Apollonia, by Panos' university teacher. Gill Hellenic is here, anyway (use the popup menu):

piccic's picture

What is a "a nonce and pervert's font", anyway?
And why should I consider Gill Sans a "bad type"?

piccic's picture

From what I see, Red designed the identity of an humanitarian work, "The Olympiacos Blood Bank", which incidentally uses Cannibal's Gill Hellenic and Emigre Arbitrary Greek. Nothing to do neither with type design nor the Olympic Games, I think.

From Red's website:
"The Olympiacos soccer club this week, in a social effort supported by Red Design Consultants is beginning a huge blood drive.
"The Olympiacos Blood Bank was started in memory of the victims of Gate 7, a tragic accident that cost many human lives, and it is now putting together a nine-day, nation-wide humanitarian marathon that will ask for the participation of well-known athletes, business people, club members and fans."

matteson's picture

Claudio: Go to Red's site, click on Brands, then click Athens 2004. Looks like they designed the olive wreath mark (with Wolff Olins) -- but neither their site nor Olins' mentions the type.

ps: Hope all's well with you & your work

terryw's picture

>What is a "a nonce and pervert's font", anyway?

If I had to pick one it would be a "sans" but not Gill.

as8's picture

> If I had to pick one it would be a "sans" but not Gill.

Why? Which context?


piccic's picture

Nathan, my friend, I'm so glad to hear you! Don't worry: you and Isaac will be the first to know of any possible book idea I may happen to seriously engage in. :-)

On Red: well, maybe Agfa found a way to supply the typeface and Red to design the mark. Those are obscure and greedy marketing ploys I don't care about.
Unless, like Vincent, I'm involved first hand!

But, Vincent, I can assure you Panos and his colleagues at Cannibal are very caring and honest guys, and they probably are still unaware you and your colleague Gerry Leonidas were the first called in for the work.

I think Agfa maybe "sold" the Gill Hellenic extension, already designed, to the comittee, or whoever cashes the big money, for what matters. sigh!
And I'm sincerely sorry you have not had the opportunity to work on it. I have not been able to talk to Panos, but I sent him an email.

I still don't get what "a nonce and pervert's font" would be.

dan_reynolds's picture

Alot of people condemn Eric Gill's fonts because he was a pedaphile, among other things (incest, sheep shagging

titi's picture

I have been, in these days, in Athens.
But, in the official logo, 'ATHENS 2004' is in Frutiger, not in Gill, as you can see also at:

as8's picture

Geia Sas prof. Fabrizio Serra :-)

titi's picture


dan_reynolds's picture

so the logo is frutiger, but the official typeface of the games is gill? is the greek logo also frutiger, or is that gill sans greek?

titi's picture

the Greek logo is Frutiger too. See:


piccic's picture

"Alot of people condemn Eric Gill's fonts "because he was a pedaphile, among other things (incest, sheep shagging

dan_reynolds's picture

Of course I didn't know him personally. I was quite reluctant to think that he was a pedaphile, too. In April, I got into a little debate about that here on Typophile. Then Yves, Hrant, and Thomas pointed me toward his Autobiography, where he confesses his deeds. Aside from having it out of the horse's mouth, or hands, so to speak. If people like Erik Spiekermann believe it (he posted a explanation last month on Speak Up), it is probably true.

Again, I never said that people shouldn't use his types. Perpetua is my favorite typeface! I was just trying explain the above quote to you.

In other words, Gill most likely was a pedaphile, among other things, but it doesn't particularly bother me (in part because it might not be true

piccic's picture

I'm just dead sick of cultures based on guilt.
And if you wish to be more precise Gill abused his dog and his daughters, not a sheep.

In a few words, everything which was in sight.
Very relevant at this point, anyway. Like throwing •••• over Adolf Hitler or idolizing Charles Manson. More or less.

I wish I could have known any hyped individual personally, especially D.A.F. De Sade.

hrant's picture

> I'm just dead sick of cultures based on guilt.

Right on, Claudio.


panos's picture

Let me answer some of your questions regarding the Olympic font.

First of all, the Olympic font -Gill Sans Hellenic- was designed by my colleague in Cannibal, Hector Haralambous and I thank Claudio for mentioning it. (Hector among other things, has been designing fonts for more than 20 years)
Some modifications that I did, do not remove any credit from Hector.
This Greek version of Gill Sans is quite different than Gill Sans Dual Greek and is distributed under license of Agfa Monotype by Cannibal which is the name of our design studio.
The reason why Athens 2004 used Gill Sans Hellenic is clearly quoted in Agfa Monotype's announcement.
Now, if Eric Gill was a paidophile and a pervert is something irrelevant with this conversation and I agree with what Dan posted.

RED Design Consultants, together with Wolff Olins are the designers of the olive wreath mark as Nathan correctly noticed. The font used for the ATHINA logo is Foundry Sans (not Frutiger) with some slight modifications (ex. #2). Apart from the logo, nowhere else has any other font been used but Gill.

And last, since it is Vincent's opening question, I am not aware of any assignment nor Gerry has ever mentioned, at least to me, something. Besides, Gill Sans Hellenic was decided as the Olympic font long before the year 2000 and at least anyone involved in our effort to organize the Games in Greece (publishers, printers, designers, advertisers or licensors) were well aware of that.


piccic's picture

I'm glad Panos found the time to clear the question. Vincent?

And, forgive me, but if such "comments" about Gill (or whichever designer, dead or alive) behavior are irrelevant about type conversations, why are they always raised?

I suppose because you always have to look at someome presumably worse than you to feel "safer" or "better". And not to improve.

A journalist: "What do you think should change in the Church?"
Mother Theresa of Calcutta: "You and I".

Thanks, Hrant. :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

Many thanks to Panos for setting the record straight.

As for Gill, if he were alive today I'm certain he would drive a Saab, and perhaps that's why Vinnie (a confessed Audi lover) doesn't like him or the typeface.


miles's picture

thanks for making things clearer Panayiotis.

I worked on the wreath with the designer Theodora Mantzaris - Kindel, then at Wolff Olins, now Manager of the Image & Identity Department in the Organising Committee for the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games.
I'm not sure exactly who selected Gill, I selected and modified the logotypes in FoundrySans,
and was very much looking forward to doing a custom typeface for the event :-(

Theodora gave a presentation of the Visual Identity of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games at the Thesalonniki (sp) typography conference this year.
red design have been handling implementation.

gerry_leonidas's picture

My two [euro]cents:
Vince's query is not unfounded. There was indeed an early effort for a new Greek typeface, roundabout the time Miles did his work through W-O. The people then involved had a preference for Foundry Sans, therefore it made it into the logo. My involvement was before and shortly after the time of the logo; in the end it came to little, mostly for licensing reasons. No mention of Gill Sans was made at the time I was in the loop, but I've been out of it for years.

Foundry Sans had the double benefit of a contemporary design, and the lack of association with the British typographical tradition; arguably desirable attributes in this case. Its drawback, in the context, was the slanted italic.

Being in Greece for the four weeks preceding the Games and taking in as much as I could, I can say that the whole identity thing clicks together pretty well. However, the pictograms deserved to be a bit more visible; or perhaps it is my current televisual perspective.

dezcom's picture

The Pictograms have that Grecian Urn look from what little I can see of them (even at the "larger" sized GIF). This is the first I have seen of them. They sure are not as omnipresent as say they were in Germany in '72.

miles's picture

Off topic:
Phevos and Athena, the mascots, are a joke.
Very poor, infact, i don't thing they could be worse.
I think the whole identity has a low budget feel, which is not a bad thing, in that there are better places to spend money, like the facilities for the atheletes.

gerry_leonidas's picture

In my experience the budgets for the identity and the infrastructure works would be entirely separate items, and -- depending on the scale of the project -- their management structure may not overlap until you reach the very top levels in the hierarchy. I do not think you could sustain that, for example, going for different mascots would release funds for works.

Of course, whereas no delay was registered with the identity, a substantial part of the works happened in the last few months -- so even less of an opportunity for give-and-take there... And, whatever you think of Phoevos (which my sons like, but if they knew better would probably disagree with the decision to drop the proper diphthong) you have to keep in mind that it costs just as much to get it right than to get it wrong.

miles's picture

absolutely Gerry,
I had my "idealism hat" on when writing about distribution of funds.

>>it costs just as much to get it right than to get it wrong.

well, that's a good way of putting it, but it's no excuse, just a failure of aesthetic judgment on the part of the commissioning body.
Particularly when there's such a plethora of well thought through and endearing characters designed and but not used. I think we are currently in a period of renaissance in character design. That's what makes Phevos and Athena so dissapointing.

speter's picture

my colleague in Cannibal, Hector

Wow, that caught my eye. Silence of the Lambs? :-)

adriano's picture

We all suffer from typophile... This means we all need help. For now type is legal...

Christian Robertson's picture

Wow, now we've covered pedophilia, beastiality and cannibalism. Even olympic type can't escape the scandals.

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