Previously, graphic designers had audiences limited to their own culture; as a result, their artworks usually reflect the artist’s style. Now, with the increase of commercialization and globalization in the field, we see modern graphic designers’ creations more and more adaptive to their respective audiences. Huang Hai and his posters for the movie “The Golden Era” are a perfect example of this shift (Global times). By adjusting his international posters to their respective audiences, he captured audiences across all cultures.
“The Golden Era” is a biographical film about Xiao Hong, an acclaimed novelist, she was born into the chaos of the Chinese Civil War and World War II, Hong’s struggles for change and progress. Huang Hai has kept this theme in mind while designing the posters for “The Golden Era,” all while adding creative differences to appeal and communicate to the international audiences.
The first poster is intended for China Mainland; Xiao Hong is very well-known in China, so there is no over-explanation of her character and story. Instead, the poster attracts audiences with its subtleties; the ink symbolizes Hong’s work as a novelist, and the irregular pattern of the ink splash symbolizes her struggles against the chaotic time she lived in.
The poster for Taiwan is also very subtle; one single feather floats atop water, just like Hong’s life, uncertain yet free.
The poster for Japan is the only one with Hong laughing with a man. The romance element appeals more to the Japanese viewers while the Ink-Wash painting style background still strongly suggests that it is a Chinese film.
For the Korean audience, the poster shows Hong in tears, as Koreans resonate more with dramas and films that portray sadness and emotions.
Hong’s struggles are still shown in the French poster, but she feels less frail. Her independence and fierceness align more with the French’s view of a woman fighting for freedom. The symbol for her novelist profession also changed from ink to a pen; becoming more simplified and direct.
The American version has the most drastic difference; the design is much simpler and direct. The pen fills the poster, straightforwardly representing the premise of the movie; the Chinese plum gives a historical Chinese feeling; and, the golden colour scheme fits the theme of “The Golden Era.” Hong has become a silhouette figure, and the overall poster feels like the cover of a novel.
The late shift to globalization demands graphic designers to consider the international demographic, and Huang Hai’s brilliance lies in his ability to acclimate this shift. Huang Hai’s work represents the current trend in graphic design, and therefore he should be included in the textbook of the history of graphic design.
Lim, Dawn. “The Art of Movie Posters by Huang Hai.” Cfensi, 16 Sept. 2019, cfen.si/2018/12/09/the-art-of-film-posters-by-huang-hai/.
Global Times. “Graphic Artist Huang Hai Strikes Again with ‘Spirited Away’ Posters.” Global Times, www.globaltimes.cn/content/1155353.shtml.
“What Is Graphic Design?” The Interaction Design Foundation, www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/graphic-design.