The image of the sport pictograms (white sign) for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is released by the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee in Beijing on Dec 31, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua] Design of Beijing Games icons inspired by traditional Chinese engraving art Beijing capped a busy year of preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics on Thursday with the release of the Games' official sports pictograms, which have been inspired by the traditional Chinese art of seal engraving. With some of the country's top sports and entertainment celebrities in attendance, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games unveiled the pictograms during a televised countdown party on New Year's Eve－a major milestone in preparations with co-host city Zhangjiakou, Hebei province for the winter sports gala. The set of pictograms consists of 24 icons covering all the medal events across seven sports for the 2022 Winter Olympics and six symbols identifying each of the sports at the Paralympics. Designed based on the traditional art form of seal engraving, each of the pictograms depicts a respective event with unique strokes－as those carved with a knife on Chinese seals dating back to the Qin and Han dynasties. The pictograms embody both the motion of winter sports and China's rich culture in modern graphics. The sharp contrast between the red background and white strokes also highlights the grace and dynamism of winter sports, as well as adding a festival vibe to the Games, which will overlap with the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2022. "The release of the sports pictograms marks the progress of our preparations for the 2022 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games over the past year in a visually strong fashion," said Gao Tian, deputy director of the Culture and Ceremonies Department of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee. "It's another example of presenting time-honored Chinese art in a modern way while integrating the quintessence of Chinese culture into sports presentation on the Olympic stage." As one of the main graphic elements of the Olympics, pictograms are widely applied in areas such as event signposting, advertising, communications, TV broadcasting and souvenir design. They should primarily be easily understandable for an international audience to signify each sport. The 2022 pictograms were developed in line with the style of the Games' emblems, with both graphic elements designed by the same group led by Lin Cunzhen, an associate professor at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Drawing on inspiration from the pictograms used at the 2008 Summer Games, the 2022 symbols also incorporate the art of calligraphy. "We designed the 2022 pictograms based on two principles－to stay consistent with the Games' entire visual appearance and to echo the design used at the 2008 Summer Olympics to highlight Beijing's unique status as the world's only city so far to host both Games," said Lin, who is also an art director with Beijing 2022's Culture and Ceremonies Department. The craft of engraving is better suited to portraying the power and speed of winter sports than the smooth style of calligraphy used in 2008. Yet, the challenge of depicting every sport distinctively still took the design team half a year to perfect, with hundreds of sketches drawn and countless modifications made, according to Lin. Brainstorming with event managers and international consultants from Beijing 2022's sports department also contributed to the design with invaluable insights. For example, the visual angle of the logo for long-track speed skating was adjusted from the conventional sideline to the head-on angle, as per suggestions from the sports department, to differentiate it from the short-track event and better capture the movement of athletes, explained Lin. The design of the 2022 pictograms has earned a resounding thumbs-up from all the relevant International Federations, said Tong Lixin, head of Beijing 2022's sports department. "We made some adjustments based on their suggestions on certain details, which put the icing on the cake," Tong said of the feedback from the IFs. "Eventually, they all approved the designs with high praise for their innovation and strong Chinese characteristics." Staged in three venue zones－downtown Beijing, its northwest Yanqing district and Zhangjiakou－the 2022 Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to run from Feb 4-20, followed by the Paralympic Winter Games from March 4-13.