What? Why? Who? At 46, Guo Chunning has some impressive achievements in the world of commercial design. He is president of Beijing-based Armstrong International Corporate Identity (AICI) and the designer of the Olympic logo called 'Chinese Seal-Dancing Beijing'. Guo's submission was chosen from nearly 2,000 entries to represent the spirit of the Greatest Show on Earth. He explains where he found inspiration and how the Olympic emblem changed his life. How did the design process for the logo came about? In July 2002, I was invited to attend a meeting organised by Bocog. The committee was soliciting designs for the emblem and He Zhenliang, honorary chairman of China's Olympic Committee and BOCOG adviser, said the logo had to embody Chinese cultural characteristics as well as the spirit of the Olympic movement. It's a tough task as the logo must be understood by people from different nations. One Chinese character was my first source of inspiration for the logo. The character was 'jing', which stands for Beijing. I think Chinese characters are the most important bearers of China's thousands of years of culture. Chinese characters have the unique beauty in that they are a pictograph, compact and abstract.' But when I saw the logo for the first time, I thought the character was 'wen', which stands for culture. Yes, a lot of people misinterpret the character as 'wen'. It's really a personification of jing. The character was shaped into an athlete running to victory, or dancing against a red backdrop. The use of a seal in the logo is another ingenious idea. With thousands of years of history, seal art is a crucial part of Chinese culture. It's also the seal of the nation, the promise Beijing makes to the world to stage a great Olympics. Do you think Western people will understand your thinking behind the logo design? Actually, I was very anxious about that. But after the logo was unveiled in the Temple of Heaven last year, I was very surprised to see it was highly praised and acknowledged by Westerners. But as Lu Xun said: 'The more national, the more international'. That is totally right. When did you know your design would be adopted? I heard from the media that IOC president Jacques Rogge described the logo as 'young, dynamic, combining the historical and cultural heritage, as well as the future of China' and 'a perfect Olympic emblem'. I was then 100 per cent sure the design adopted was mine. I was overwhelmed with happiness because my work had paid off. What was the reward from Bocog? I received 200,000 yuan. But the organising committee then owns all the intellectual property rights related to the logo. What has been the most impressive thing about the logo? Recognition from Westerners. It was much more than I had expected because logo design in China lags far behind the development in the west. Has the logo changed your life? The intangible assets of my company grew dramatically. A lot of clients turned to me because of our reputation, which was established by designing the Olympic logo. Suddenly, I became very busy. I also started to be concerned about everything to do with the 2008 Games. The Olympics has been incorporated into my life. Apart from the honour, the logo has also brought me great pressure because it has become a peak in my career. Do you think the logo is perfect or could it be improved if you had more time? I should say designing art is full of regrets. If given more time, I would strengthen the idea of the inscription. Some engravers criticised me, saying I was a layman in terms of inscription. But I only had three months to design the logo. I have heard that you've started to design the mascot for the 2008 Games. Is that true? Yes. It's a new starting point and another new challenge. It's already a great honour to be a part of designing the mascot. You've recently been taken to court over credit for the logo design. What is your feeling about that? Yes, Zhang Xiangdong, a former employee of my firm, claimed he came up with the idea of a traditional Chinese red seal to complement my idea of a single character, jing. That's not true. He was one out of more than 10 designers working on the logo and he only put my photographic draft on to the computer. I did most of the design work and I did not know much about computers at that time. I also thought I would lose some of my imagination if I were too dependent on the computer. It's ridiculous that he has sued my firm for formal recognition of what, he says, is his contribution to the creation of the logo. It's just we share the same idea of using a red seal as the backdrop. Even I no longer have the intellectual property rights on the logo. But he has achieved his goal to establish a profile.