We’re all very familiar with graphic design from the west, particularly in the US and UK. Graphic design from other areas like China, is a bit different, but still very aesthetically appealing. Graphic design is still fairly new in China, only being about a decade into its exploration. Graphic design is starting to be applied to everything instead of just being used for political propaganda. So what is actually happening now in the country? China has started to become modern and the youth of China are starting to explore and push more boundaries. Most of the graphic design work that is going on now is done by these fresh, new 20/30-something year olds. In Shanghai or Beijing contemporary art is becoming very popular and these new art scenes are becoming a good environment for graphic design. “In China, there are really interesting statistics about design students since the economic boom – because there are twenty to thirty times more design students and it’s increasing. However, this is not really healthy, because they employ all of them.”
China is booming with creative energy but yet holds a strong sense of nationalism, so it’s no surprise that modern graphic design still employs the same design elements found in traditional Chinese art. Many of the styles of the Chinese graphic designers combine old-styles with simple lines and colors. A lot of the work has been inspired by the West, and especially by Japan. “A huge range of influences, from Japanese Manga and western pop to traditional folk art underline this generation’s struggle to create a fresh sense of Chinese creative identity while also highlighting the dramatic changes that have transformed the practice of design in the country over the past few years.”
An artist named Hei Yiyang founded his own design firm, SenseTeam in 1999 and is still the creative director. SenseTeam has been an emerging design company through the past few years. Hei Yiyang himself has been said to “already be a noted pioneer of cultural exchanges in China.” He has focused his works on branding, exhibition planning, environmental design, and publishing. He has won numerous competitions and gained more than 100 international awards. Hei Yiyang devoted himself to putting different mediums, including graphic design together to make his works interesting, meaningful, and valuable. His book design is absolutely notable but also his works using fluorescent lights are particularly unique. He is a perfect example of this fresh outlook on graphic design. Hei Yiyang has been featured in a book that samples new graphic art in China, from print, packaging and logo design to award-winning graphic design, 3030: New Graphic Design in China, along with 30 of China’s brightest young designers.
Xiaoyong has also been a key figure in Chinese graphic design. He is a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and is well known in the field. Xiaoyong has been awarded more than 40 times and has been chosen as a jury member in many major Chinese national graphic design competitions. His most notable work has been working for the Beijing Olympics. For the 2008 Olympics, he designed the Olympic Medals. This really allowed his name and work to get out there and be known. He has done a lot of other logo and poster work as well and works with many different companies in China.
It is becoming obvious now that graphic design does not belong to the domain of the propagandists anymore. China still has a fair way to go before it can claim to be a creative hub, but the work coming from China certainly shows that its emerging generation of young graphic designers is on its way.