Cross-cultural typography design
~~English & Chinese~~

At the 13th Creative Morning in Berlin Erik Spiekermann gives a 20 minute introduction to Type On Screen.

This is a valuable presentation on Bilingual Typography of Hong Kong by a Hong Kong designer called Keith Tam. He points out that bilingual typography is not all about visual harmony but about how various constituent parts of each language interact with each other under many different contexts for many different purposes. He have been using linguistics a lot, because he try to understand on the language linguistic level how to relates to the visual level. This is very well analyzed presentation about how the two language interactive each other. 

A Book That Recently Read/最近读的一本书

A book that I read is extremely relevant my topic: cross-cultural typographic design. The author is Henry Steiner who also called as the ‘Father of Cross-cultual in China’.

“Ideally, designers are representative of their own culture yet adaptive to new surroundings. The goal is to achieve a harmonious juxtaposition; more of an interaction than a synthesis. The individual character of the elements should be retained, each maintaining its own identity while also commenting on and enriching the other, like the balance of Yin and Yang.”

Henry Steiner, leads the ‘East meets West’ style that will later influence the next generation of Chinese designs, raises questions in the book about how artists and graphic designers can communicate cross-culturally and how the graphic designers have overcome geographical, cultural, and political boundaries in the service of communication. With answering these questions, Henry Steiner points out that there are three stages in the cross-cultural design process, which are Quotation, Mimicry and Transformation. These high quality essays extremely relevant to my current practice and help me find a clearer way to explore my topic during MA study. He is an expert about cross-cultural design; especially have deep understanding about Chinese design. Besides, this book contains a multitude of high quality works designed by foremost typography designers, which inspired me a lot. To sum up, it is extremely valuable source for me.

Steiner, Henry, (1995). Cross-Cultural Design, London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Reflective Account/课程总结

The foundations for my work came from the enthusiasm of typography design within the field of graphic design. In the undergraduate explorative research I had a blurry and general concept of typography design, and only pursued the superficial visual effect. But through post-graduate research I learnt a lot of effective research skills and I started to focus on the situation of typography design in China, which caused me a lot of frustration. Then I began to look at typography design in different design language context, especially the aesthetics of cross-cultural typographic design.

Writing the critical analysis assignment, thinking critically and questioning authoritatively to achieve my own creative thoughts, were significant study methods that had a profound influence in my learning process. When beginning to write out ideas for critical analysis, I considered analyzing the typography design in different languages, as it was my main interest. Sadly, the idea was too broad to focus on and there were too many different language contexts to consider. Therefore I learnt how to narrow down the topic instead of researching everything blindly because in many professional cases concentrating on one thing is better than spending time on everything. This kind of research skills is especially crucial for my professional development as it helps me locate my discipline in a specific field. Finally I concentrated on cross-cultural typography design; focusing particularly on the study of Chinese characters and the Latin alphabet within the field of graphic design.

Along with more research, I recorded designers’ critical thoughts, my own thinking and practice works and creative conversation with peers in my blog. By making a log of all the texts helped me to easily find where an idea had originated. Besidesin order for my work to achieve the level and depth that is needed in post-graduate study, working with other creative designers is crucial.

Reading research texts allowed me to find other scholars within my discipline who are relevant to what I am researching and allowed me to proceed to later stages of my project. With greater research, I started to get a better understanding about contemporary Chinese typography design. Increasingly Chinese designers are indiscriminately mixing Chinese and Western design elements, and expect them to be good designs. Bad examples can be found everywhere. However, many cross-cultural designs only combine Chinese and Western typography without thinking deeper which is not really the way to explore cross-cultural typography design.

With these problems in mind, I looked to find solutions to deal with them. I divided the whole year into three stages by experiments, sketches, typography design works to achieve my Masters.

The research necessary to achieve the right standard at post-graduate level requires me to enhance my skills as a practitioner. Consequently, a cross-cultural typography design style, which adapts to the current trend of contemporary visual communication, will be created. It will transfer two different languages via an international style typographic design to adapt to the current globalization trend of combining East and West. The outcomes can be one piece or a series of designs after integrating the two writing systems. I still have no specific visual image of the final project, before carrying out the first two stages. During the first two stages, I expect to generate new ideas and new questions, which will profoundly influence my final outcome.

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About My Blog/关于我的博客

My MA topic is about exploring cross-cultural typography design, specially focus on the Latin alphabet and Chinese typography design. Therefore my blog is bilingual, English and Chinese. It’s not only a good way to find where an idea has originated, but also a good opportunity to see how two different typefaces work together in one graphic layout.

Chinese Translation: 中文翻译


Case Study on Cross-Cultural Typography Design/可口可乐案例研究



The Coca-Cola is always the one of the most great example of cross-culture typography design. It takes time to figure out clearly why, so I spend a lot of time to think and write. Because I believe that it will be benefit for my future research.

Why is it that no matter where we saw Coca-Cola logo in the world, or which language was used on logo, we can always recognize it instantly? Would it produce a same visual effect with different language and different typography? The following analysis will give us answers.

The English version of the Coca-Cola logo designed with Spenserian script is an elegant and changeful English typeface in a handwriting way. The letters size ratio of trademark arrangement is appropriate and the lines of letters interspersed cleverly and smoothly. The whole logo slanted to the right with wavy ribbon patterns that gives the whole logo vitality and dynamism. The overall logo is simple and eye-catching so that consumers can easily read, identified and remember. The English version of Coca-Cola is probably one of the best logos in the world with high aesthetic value.

How can one base on the English visual identity to redesign into Chinese version without losing the original spirit of Coca-Cola? The first thing we need to bear in mind is that there are three main elements in visual identity system of Coca-Cola, which are accepted by the customers all over the world. They consist of the name of brand, standard colour and typeface with wavy ribbon patterns. All of these are the most valuable treasures and distinctive features of the Coca-Cola compared with other rivals. These three conditions are indispensable.

In the Chinese Coca-Cola logo design, the designer did not merely deform the Chinese characters passively only for catering to the arc shape of Spenserian, (a typeface used as Coca-Cola logo,) but still retained the unique characteristic of Chinese Boldface (a Chinese typeface). Characters structure was kept simple and standard to make them can be identified easier. Of course, in order to make the logo have more similarities with the English one, Chinese characters were slanted to the right, which is the same way as the English one. In addition, the shape of strokes of characters followed the style of Spenserian. It is worth mentioning here is that the impressive feature of the two up-and-down wavy ribbons were added in the Chinese version as well. So far the Chinese version logo has all the characteristics the English one has.

The Chinese version inherited the original essences of the English version. In the meantime, Chinese typeface emphasized the essence of the trademark and accomplished a perfect integration with the English version, to convey a contemporary look. Like Linying Li (2011) said in her blog:” even though the Chinese characters are completely different from the English letter, both versions of the trademark today have a similar and familiar appearance. From an unity perspective, customers can feel the integration of Western and Chinese cultures directly.”

So, let’s answer that two questions asked before. The first one answer: we can recognize the Coca-Cola logo everywhere no matter what the language is, just because that although the two typefaces came from two type system, they all embodied the same aesthetic characteristics and spirit of Coca-Cola. These two different typefaces were ingeniously linked up by some relatively implicit design elements. As is commonly said “Don’t know why, I just know.” This interesting phenomenon proves that even though Chinese characters and the Latin alphabet have their relatively independent development, they still remain some inconspicuous similarities.

Anther question’s answer: Of course not! Although these two typography designs serviced for one brand, the visual effects they produced are still different to a great extent. We can see that English version was designed with a more modern way and international way, which means people from the entire world, can easier to accept it. On the contrary, the Chinese version more emphasized the Chinese traditional Culture and has specific target customers, the Chinese market rather than the whole world.  

A Typography Poster Designed For a Sketchbook Exhibition/为‘草图展览’设计的海报


A typography poster designed for an exhibition of sketchbook pages called ‘RAW’  to show the working methodology of MA student current projects. Because the exhibition is all about sketchbooks, I designed the whole poster with old school method-handwriting on my sketchbook. So this poster is actually one page of my sketchbook. It was another great experience of exploring the Latin alphabet typography design. 

A Book That Inspired Me a Lot//一本让人受启发的书

Language Cultural Type: International Type Design in the Age of Unicode by John D. Berry


I have rated this book 5-star. This book is a great resource for inspiration when it comes to international typographic design. The high quality essays presented by foremost about the interplay of types and languages in the world today are especially relevant to my current topic. It contains a lot of full colour autistics works to allow the reader to have a better understanding of experts’ heavy writing. It inspires me to have a look into some context about linguistic for my current practice. One of the relevant essays describes Japanese typographic design, which investigates similarities and differences between Japanese characters and Chinese characters. It explains clearly how to erase the solid boundary between Eastern and Western typography. It is a great opportunity to learn from advanced Japanese typography design.

Chinese Translation:中文版本