The Design Evolution of Official Commonwealth Games Posters (1938 – 2014)

Just as we did a few weeks ago with Wimbledon, today we take a look at the design evolution of the Commonwealth Games posters.

The Commonwealth Games as it is known today (as of 1978) has evolved through a range of different identities. From the 1930s to the early 1950s. Initially it was known as the British Empire Games before being rebranded to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 and then rebranded once again in 1970 to the “British Commonwealth Games”

The Commonwealth Games is an international sporting event occurring every four years and is the third biggest after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games.

Athletes from countries around the Commonwealth – a group of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire compete in a range of sports, hosted in cities selected by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

Including the games in 2014, which are due to be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, eighteen cities in seven countries have hosted the event.

Elanders UK Printing, takes a look at the history and design evolution of the official Commonwealth Games posters.

1938

design evolution The official poster for the 1938 Commonwealth Games posters held in Sydney
The official poster for the 1938 Commonwealth Games held in Sydney.

The 1938 poster promotes the third occurrence of what was then known as the British Empire Games. The games were held in Sydney, New South Wales from February 5th – 12th 1938 and were timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary celebrations of British settlement in Australia.

The British Empire Games used the Sydney Cricket Ground as the main stadium in addition to the Sydney Sports Ground, North Sydney Olympic Pool and Henson Park with an estimated 40,000 spectators attending the opening ceremony. Due to the start of the Second World War, the games weren’t held again until 1950.

The poster features an illustration of an athlete holding a discus with the Union Jack flag behind him – marking the 150th anniversary of British settlement – an important event at the time for both British and Australians alike.

1958

design evolution The Red Dragon, the iconic symbol of Wales, makes an appearance on the 1958 poster
The Red Dragon, the iconic symbol of Wales, makes an appearance on the 1958 poster.

In 1958, the Welsh capital of Cardiff hosted the second occurrence of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. 1,130 athletes and 28 officials from 35 Commonwealth Nations were sent to compete from July 18th – 26th 1958. Countries and dependencies including Singapore, Ghana, Kenya and Isle of Man won medals for the first time.

The British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom was the first time the Queens Baton Relay (a similar ceremony to the Olympic torch relay) was introduced and has been conduced as a prelude to each and every British Empire and Commonwealth Games every since.

The poster features a javelin thrower in front of an outline of Wales with the Irish Sea surrounding it. A small red dragon, the national emblem, is also present.

The presence of the note at the bottom of the poster highlights most spectators will commute from other parts of Wales, including Cardiff Airport, and other towns from around the British Isles to Cardiff.

1962

design evolution The Commonwealth starts to incorporate scenery into posters in 1962 Commonwealth Games posters
The Commonwealth starts to incorporate scenery into posters in 1962.

The 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Perth, Western Australia between November 22nd and December 1st. The main athletic events were held at the Perry Lakes Stadium, Floreat with aquatic events held at the Beatty Park in North Perth.

The poster is printed in full colour and features a bird’s eye view of the Western Australian coastline where Perth meets the Indian Ocean.

1970

design evolution An official logo was created for the 1970s games held in Edinburgh, Scotland
An official logo was created for the 1970s games held in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The 1970 British Commonwealth Games were hosted in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh from July 16th – 25th. The 1970s was a significant year for the Commonwealth Games; the games took on the brand of the British Commonwealth Games and the first time the games were hosted in Scotland.

As the Commonwealth Games continued on in the 1970s, imperial measurement units were changed to metric units. When the 1966 games were hosted in Jamaican capital, Kingston, sprints and jumps were measured out by yards with longer marathons measured out by miles. The only event that wasn’t measured by metric units in 1966 was the 3000 (3 kilometres) metres steeplechase.

The games also saw the first unique trademark logo which the Games emblem combined with a St. Andrews Cross and a thistle, a floral emblem of Scotland.

The poster uses the colour scheme of the Scottish flag, St. Andrews Cross, of white and blue with an addition of black text. The Scottish flag is also visible in the background, along with the remainder of the flags belonging to each of the countries in the Commonwealth.

1974

design evolution The defaced Blue Ensign of the New Zealand national flag appears on the official logo in 1974
The defaced Blue Ensign of the New Zealand national flag appears on the official logo in 1974.

The New Zealand city of Christchurch hosted the 1974 British Commonwealth Games from January 24th – February 2nd. The main venue was the Queen Elizabeth Park, which was purpose built and one of the most modern in the world when finished. The athletics stadium and fully covered Olympic standard pool, diving tank and practice pools were all located on the one site. In February 2011, a devastating earthquake hit New Zealand and the stadium along with the rest of the buildings were damaged beyond repair.

design evolution The official emblem created for the 1974 Commonwealth Games
The official emblem created for the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

The poster features a male bowls player on white background with a red, blue and pink colour scheme. An official emblem was created for the games, which uses the same blue (not shown in the example above) and red colour scheme of the New Zealand national flag.

1978

design evolution The 1978 poster shows 3 of the 11 sports – Athletics, Cycling and Swimming
The 1978 poster shows 3 of the 11 sports – Athletics, Cycling and Swimming.

The Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta hosted the Commonwealth Games as we know it today, from August 3rd to 12th. For the first time, ticket sales were organized by way of a computerised system.

The poster created for the Commonwealth Games of 1978 combines three of the eleven events; Swimming, Athletics, Cycling. It uses a series of colours including white for the main background in addition to red, orange, gold, blue and brown.

1998

design evolution The Malaysian designed 1998 poster shows a variety of different venues for the games
The Malaysian designed 1998 poster shows a variety of different venues for the games.

Twenty years on and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia was the first Asian city and country, respectively, to host the last Commonwealth Games of the twentieth century in 1998. The games, which were hosted over a period of 10 days from September 11th – 21st, saw 69 nations, a record of the most nations to attend the Commonwealth Games of which 3,628 athletes competed.

The poster created for the 1998 tournament features a variety of the venues used to host different events including the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil which includes the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, used to open and close the games in addition to hosting the athletic events, the Putra Stadium to host Gymnastic events, National Aquatic Centre to host aquatic events and the National Squash Centre for the squash events.

The colour scheme used by the poster uses combination of birds eye view photographs of each of the stadiums in addition to the corn fields found in the Malaysian countryside. The typeface used for the headline is a serif variant and complements the Commonwealth Games logo and the Mascot.

2006

design evolution The design of the poster is drastically changed from 1998 with a simplistic design incorporated in 2006
The design of the poster is drastically changed from 1998 with a simplistic design incorporated in 2006.

Melbourne, Australia staged the largest sporting event in Melbourne, with more teams, athletes and events being held compared to the 1956 Summer Olympics held in the city. The 11-day Commonwealth Games opened on March 15th and closed on March 26th at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The design of the poster is simplistic, with the Commonwealth Games logo created especially for the Melbourne hosted games, taking most of the space with space left for the Commonwealth Games Federation logo and trademark symbol.

2010

design evolution The 2010 Commonwealth Games poster follows the same design as seen in 2006 with the motto displayed
The 2010 Commonwealth Games poster follows the same design as seen in 2006 with the motto displayed.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games was the largest sporting event to be held in Delhi and India, suppressing the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982 respectively. It was opened at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main stadium of the event, on October 3rd with the closing event held on October 14th. 6,081 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competed in 21 sports and 272 events making it the largest Commonwealth Games to date.

Similar to the poster created for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the poster is simplistic with the logo of the event and the CGF present in addition to the motto slogan “Come out and play”.

2014

design evolution The official poster for the 2014 Commonwealth Games combined simplistic design with more information as displayed on posters from the 1970s
The official poster for the 2014 Commonwealth Games combined simplistic design with more information as displayed on posters from the 1970s.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games, which will be hosted in the Scottish city of Glasgow, usually promoted as Scotland’s second capital city. It will be the largest multi sport event Scotland has held, despite the country hosting the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Glasgow will use two different venues to open and close the event; Celtic Park will open the event on July 23rd with Hampden Park closing the event on July 3rd.

Inline with the last two Commonwealth Games, the poster is simplistic and the largest element on the design. The logo of the Commonwealth Games Federation is still present and below the event logo in addition to information about when the event is taking place.

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This post has been written by the team here at Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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