I think Chinese Character and ancient painting should be mentioned in the next edition of Graphic Design: A New History. It is because, introducing Chinese Character and ancient painting prevents students from ethnocentric thinking, which is a way which thinks that all ideologies and culture from the western is right and superior.
Firstly, introducing Chinese character using a complete chapter, instead of categorizing all non-western letter inventions as orientalist letter and combine them in one small chapter, allows students to understand that there is a different character structure that exists in another culture system, and it has the same value as the English alphabet.
Specifically, the Chinese character and the English alphabet’s font construction system are very different in their composed method. “The critical departure from alphabetic writing is that Chinese writing does not reflect the segmental structure fundamental to alphabetic systems ” (Perfetti132). In another word, there are 1584 different scripts in the database, each script is meaningless if people did not compose them together. Like the image below, a single word”Yong”is formed by nine different scripts
However, in the English alphabet, there are only 26 letters. Different words are formed by changing the order of 26 letters. In a word, the Chinese character is constructed by experience qualitative change, it transforms from meaningless strokes into a word. But the English alphabet is constructed by order change, before the word being formed, each letter can be pronounced. This knowledge should all be mentioned in the textbook, instead of on purposely skip introducing the character which is used by 1.2 billion people around the world (around 16% of the world’s population)(Perfetti).
Secondly, the textbook should introduce Chinese ancient painting, the current textbook only talks about the influence of Japanese painting style, such as the Ukiyo-e style, during art nouveau(Meggs209). However, based on the historical context, the Japanese painting styles are all influenced by Chinese ancient painting styles. As proof, in the Heian period (794-1185), Chinese paintings were imported from China to Japan, most of these paintings are Buddhist work, these works are brought back to Japan by monks who study Buddhism in China, these paintings be called as “kara-e” by Japanese people, and later on, Japanese people started to develop their style based on “kara-e”. For instance, Japnese Kitagawa Utamaro style, which is a style that always paints beautiful women, is influenced by Chinese painting. The first painting below is a Chinese painting, the second is a Japanese painting, from the character design style to the use of lines, they have a lot of similarities(Sullivan).
Besides, the current textbook mentions the temporary graphic design works in China but described them as a style looking towards western cultures, such as the “Shanghai-style” which is a style of illustration which depicted Chinese women as white, however, the textbook does not mention about the reason why temporary Chinese graphic designs were being westernization, which is western people’s colonization in China since1840(Eskilson).
In summary, I think Chinese Character and ancient painting should be mentioned in the next edition of Graphic Design: A New History in detail. In the future, after students become graphic designers, the habit of seeing every culture and art form as equal and valuable is beneficial towards society, and human development.
Meggs, Philip B. “Meggs’ History of Graphic Design”. New Jersey,Wiley, 2016.
Eskilson,Stephen. “Graphic design a new history.”,New Haven, Connecticut : Yale University Press, 2019.
Perfetti, Charles A, et al. Reading in two writing systems: Accommodation and assimilation of the brain’s reading network. Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.
Sullivan, Maurice J. “Continental Style: Chinese Influence in Japanese Paintings”,
Honolulu Museum of Art, 2009.