Advertising and Marketing

An irreverent graphic designer talks about his work

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

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. The pieces just express my personal attitude. I may not be one myself, but 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 this?
The world is yours, and it is also ours. But right now it's still yours.


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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.

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Comments on An irreverent graphic designer talks about his work

Thanks for that Joel. Some journalists are calling the new T-shirt a bold political statement. Your interview makes me more convinced than ever the guy is having fun being an iconoclast, but not a subversive.

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