Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Recently I hit Google in search of USSR graphics and other propaganda styled design to use as inspiration for a logo I'm creating. I harvested some nice examples online and also stumbled upon an image of a Russian children's book with an illustration of a brown, jolly faced bear with Olympic accessories. I was intrigued and searched the web for more material. The Olympic reference wasn't just for show; this was Misha, the mascot of the Moscow Olympic Summer Games in 1980. I was six at the time and more interested in pony's and Lego and building tree houses than watching sports so I missed out on this particular character.

The character Misha was a creation of the Russian illustrator Victor Chizhikov (1935). Mr. Chizhikov's design was chosen as the winner at a 'Best Illustration of a Bear' contest and it was presented as the official Olympic mascot in 1977. Misha became the first mascot of a sporting event and was a huge commercial success as a merchandise product. The bear had a leading role during the Games, appeared in different shapes and sizes and also had its own cartoon on television. All of which is quite common with (sport) event characters today.
On YouTube there are several clips and compilations of the 1980 Moscow Games. Here's one of the closing ceremony of a giant inflatable Misha floating out of the stadium and this is a clip of the opening ceremony with dancing Misha's and some board flipping routine done by part of the audience (a visual display that was traditional during mass communist rallies).

You might expect Misha to be dynamically shaped or with the looks of an athlete -after all it's a sporting event character- he's none of that: short legged, long upper body, a little junk in the trunk, slightly beer belly-ish.
He's still very much a bear. I think he's a cool looking cub.

Sources: Wikipedia, Vi.Sualize, BBC, Alex Che

1 comment:

  1. I remember a cartoon that the main character had this name it was so funny and he had some friend I remember the elephant was one of them.Generic Viagra Buy Viagra