Saturday, March 28, 2009

An irreverent graphic designer talks about his work

Zhang Facai is a graphic designer working in advertising who keeps a
blog filled with clever and amusing fliers, business cards, and fake

Danwei looked at some of his dirty jokes and anti-establishment
visual puns back in December. In February, he posted an interview
conducted by New Graphic magazine (新平面) in which he talks about
the political and social commentary that often appears in his
designs. Here's a translation:
Interview with Zhang Facai
by New Graphic magazine

1. Briefly introduce yourself
Born in the late 70s. Muddled through school, nearly got expelled in
my third year. Thought about selling paintings when I got out, but
then discovered that art's not going to support you, so I muddled
into advertising. Always muddling through: I've got low blood sugar.

2. Where do the names "Zhang Facai" (张发财) and "Stocked
Hall" (有食堂) [his blog's name] come from?
Zhang Facai was given to me by a friend. The name felt pretty
affluent to me [发财 means "get rich"], so I decided to use it.
"Stocked Hall" is the name of my study. It simply means "a hall with
food," nothing deeper than that.

3. What motivated you to start making fliers with relatively heavy
social and political meaning?
I don't think they have any political ideology. They only express my
own opinions, a very simple form of expression. Some people open
their mouths, I make pictures.

4. Do you consider yourself an intellectual? How do you perceive a
designer's social responsibility?
I'm a pseudo-intellectual. Every individual ought to have social
responsibility. It's not limited by field.

5. In those fliers that concern particular events in society, which
ones are you most satisfied with? Why?
Perhaps the series on homosexuality. There is far too much suffering
in the world, but the greatest is when people cannot freely love each
other, especially when ideas and habits prevent people from being
able to love each other. If a picture can change some people's
attitudes toward homosexuality, it would of course be a good thing,
but I don't expect that to happen. Those pieces only express my own
attitude. I may not be one, I still understand and respect them.

6. Are you satisfied with your current life and work? Have those
fliers had any negative effects on your work situation?
There have been no positive or negative effects. Design is just one
part of my life. I did not come in to this world to design, but to
have fun.

7. What do the fliers mean to you, personally? Are they
contemplative, or cathartic?
They don't mean anything, much less have anything to do with
contemplation or catharsis. They're just the product of the process
of creation and expression. I don't like contemplation. I like being
a good-for-nothing sort of person.

8. Can you describe your political attitudes?
I have attitude, but not a political attitude. If I had to give a
characterization, I'd be a fundamentalist liberal.

9. What books have you read recently?
Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Records of the Three Kingdoms.
Also Metaphysics, but I can't get into it.

10. Which of the comments and messages left by netizens have had the
greatest impression on you?
They haven't made any impression. Really, no impression.

11. Bullog has been blocked yet again. Do you have any opinion about
The world is yours, and it is also ours. But right now it's still yours.

In late February, Zhang posted without comment a Roman-numeral T-
shirt design that's now making the rounds of other blogs (as well as
the foreign media).

Earlier this week, he reposted the images to his Bullog International
blog under the title "My little brother":

He looks like his father. I look like my father. My father and
his father are twins. Oh, I also have that T-shirt.

See also this Mao-inspired t-shirt Zhang posted in October, 2008. The
shirt reads "Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers," a
quote from the Book of Rites.
Links and Sources

* New Graphic via Zhang Facai's

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