It is rare to see Chinese graphic designers to be included in the context of Western design textbooks. As the design field transitions to a more open market, talented designers from all around the world should be showcased with their works and inspire future students. Huang Hai is one of the most well-known poster designers from China, who significantly combined Chinese art styles and modern approaches together through a simple, but elegant perspective (HUANG Hai: The Poster as a Tribute to the Heroes behind the Scenes). His works always specifically depict the feeling of the movie before the audience even watch it by using different stylistic techniques. The designs do not contain a lot of abstract shapes or unique colour combinations, but the stylistic techniques capture the eyes and make the viewers want to explore and discover the various possibilities.
The most important step stone in his career was when he designed the movie poster for the film, The Sun Also Rises, directed by Jiang Wen. It was extremely different from the typical posters created during the time, and it made a dramatic contrast that separated him from other designers (Chen. Global Times). The poster is very simple, but the use of white and red colours contrast along with the figure in the center with the type capture the eyes.
A few of his recent designs that undoubtedly captured the public’s attention are the making of the movie posters for the film Big Fish & Begonia, and The Golden Era, which are both directly associated with traditional Chinese art forms and the incorporation of Chinese calligraphy. Especially for the film Shadow, the posters heavily highlight the Chinese calligraphy along with the combination of the characters. The powerful strokes of the Chinese character with the black and white contrast explained the feeling of what the movie is conveying. He does not portray the type and objects separately, instead, he combines them together in a dynamic perspective. Huang Hai iterates on the weight and the movement of the strokes as the main element along with the traditional colour combinations and brush techniques. Huang Hai’s works are so calming, that captures the essence of the film and there are no extra decorative elements that are meaningless. Everything has its own meaning that represents a specific meaning from the film. The sense of hand-drawn emphasized on the brush strokes provides a perspective of originality. Due to the release of the film “The Golden Era” in various countries, Huang Hai created different designs to match each country’s characteristics (Fan. Now Introducing: HuangHai). For example, the poster made for France release focuses on the movement of the smoke and in contrast with the background colour, it provides a sense of romanticism and mystery.
The Graphic Design: A New History by Stephen F. Eskilson includes detailed descriptions of the various historical art periods and important Western designers such as William Morris and Edward McKnight Kauffer. However, there is a dramatic transition in design style and the present-day aesthetics people appreciate has changed. It is crucial to be updated with the present-day designers, who are the main domination and influencers of the current market.
Chen, Xi. “Graphic Artist Huang Hai Strikes Again with ‘Spirited Away’ Posters.” Global Times, 23 June 2019, www.globaltimes.cn/content/1155353.shtml.
“HUANG Hai: The Poster as a Tribute to the Heroes behind the Scenes.” 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival, 18 Mar. 2019, www.siff.com/a/2019-03-18/3194.html.
Fan, Ania. “Now Introducing: HuangHai.” Graphic Design Hist20th C FW2018S2, 5 Apr. 2019, blog.ocad.ca/wordpress/visd2006-fw201803-02/2019/04/now-introducing-huanghai/.