Arts and Culture
The Chinese character in the landscape of the everyday is abundant, varied, multi-coloured, serves many purposes and is undoubtedly creative. This is by and large due to the rapid expansion of the cultural industries in China in the decennia, shaping and transforming many aspects of material life and allowing creative professionals, such as graphic typography designers and font designers, to proliferate. These new liberties have been grasped by young graphic designers to letter, or, more accurately, character the landscape of the everyday: you find their creatively executed characters in designs of film posters, games, books, packaging, advertisements and buildings both for commercial and propaganda purposes. At the same time, font designers labour painstakingly to create new Chinese font banks by hand, still obeying the rules and methods, but also the attitude of the meticulous calligrapher. How is calligraphy imagined and portrayed in the typeface and how does the computerised design link itself visually to the aesthetics of the calligraphic sign? And does the space of the digital, facilitated through and inhabited by ‘the cultural industries’ allow for more imagination and creativity than the handwritten calligraphic character is able to offer? In this presentation, I explore how the font and graphic designer negotiates demands for creative design on the one hand, and expectations to adhere to the rules of calligraphy on the other.