Week Two: Industry Today

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Lecture Reflection: 'How did we get here?'

Susanna Edwards and Maziar Raein discussed the past, present, and future of graphic design. As a film photographer, I see myself as someone who has a keen interest in older processes. Maybe it’s the romance of what’s perceived as a “simpler time” but also being able to feel artefacts and interact with others. Take film photography for example. I only recently took it up in recent years and when I look back at my very first photographs the quote, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst," by Henri Cartier-Bresson, ring true! And will ring true again in another few years when I look back on photographs that I think are pretty good now as I keep getting inspired and pushing myself to do better. I guess this is because it’s a constant process (no pun intended) of learning about film and what film is better for portraiture and skin tones, for example, and experimenting. I find the process of dropping off my film at the photoshop and then going back a week later (yes, it takes that long!) super exciting! I remember the first time I used film and the devastation and sadness I felt after returning to the photoshop expecting to be the next Vivian Maier only to find out I hadn’t wound the film on properly and so there were no photos, nada! The time, money, and patience that went into that feeling of disappointment made many question me why I wouldn't go digital, and understandably so, but it was also those reasons that made me so invested in becoming better and continuing.

However, if it hadn’t been for digital advances and everything they bring, such as social media for example, would I be as inspired? Would I have been exposed to such a vast range of film photographers? Probably not. I use Instagram regularly to post my photographs and check-in with other photographers. I can follow other photographers and like their work. With this in mind, my interest was drawn to a part in the lecture where Susanna and Maziar discussed fanzines. ‘Domestika’ magazine describe fanzines as, “the combination of the words 'fan' and 'magazine': it is a publication created by enthusiasts of particular forms of art and culture, such as music or cinema.” Fanzines can be traced back to the 19th century where amateur sci-fi comic books began to appear within the fanzine format. During the seventies and eighties, fanzines became popular within the punk movement, a collage-like publication celebrating punk music, fashion, and ideologies. As discussed in the lecture, ‘Sniffin’ Glue,’ was one of the most iconic fanzines of this time. ‘Sniffin’ Glue,’ included interviews with bands, gig dates and times as well as a lot of experimental art. As time progressed the fanzine has become more sophisticated. Technology has allowed for better graphics and overall quality, however, the handmade, cut and stick approach is still at its heart. I could argue that algorithms have replaced those hands and minds in culminating an aesthetically pleasing home screen on my Instagram. A selection of photographs and graphics that have been compiled and tailored to my tastes.

Image: 'Sniffin' Glue' Fanzine


Furthermore, a name I had to research was Barney Bubbles, purely because of being such a great name! Barney Bubbles created many iconic album artworks during the seventies and eighties. An article in ‘Another Man’ describes how he used oil on lighting slides to create bubbly backdrops for bands. Lighting backdrops to music performances are a common addition today, but was Barney’s creative genius the beginning of it?

The old way of doing things are being replaced by new technology but I think there’s still yearning and appreciation for older methods. To draw attention to my geographical location, Taiwan, and Tainan to be more precise, movie posters are still being painted by hand. At the Chin Men theatre, the 20-square-meter posters are carefully painted by 66-year-old artist Yan Jhen-fa (顏振發), who has been painting film posters for 48 years and still does. A process he hopes will continue, and so do I.

Images Below: (left) Barney Bubbles 'Face' (right) Chin Men theatre, Tainan

Image: By (me) Charles Howe

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/33143747228613532/

Four Important Steps In Design In Taiwan

Like in most cultures and countries, Taiwan's graphic design history begins with the crafts of Taiwan's indigenous people, through to the early migrants from China's Fujian province. Japanese occupation (1895-1945) brought industrialisation and the rise of fine art design. It was also during this time that Cheng Chen-po, one of Taiwan's most famous artists, grew up.

Image: https://artsandculture.google.com/story/the-aboriginal-crafts-of-taiwan-woodwork/ZwJyTBAGTLe0LA

Chen Cheng-po, Artist, (1895-1947)

Taiwan is home to some great artists. One of which that caught my attention was Chen Cheng-po who grew up during Japans occupation of Taiwan. He loved both western and traditional Chinese art, and I feel both are reflected in the painting 'Sunset in Tamshui' below. He was also an active fighter for human rights which sadly led to his death during the 228 massacre.His most famous painting ‘Sunset in Tamshui (1935)’ (second below) appeared on the home page of Google Taiwan (first below) on the occasion of his 120th birthday.

Image: https://tw.forumosa.com/t/great-chen-cheng-po-website-and-google-doodle/85738

Image: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/taiwan/articles/seven-artists-from-taiwan-past-and-present/

Printing, (1949)

The printing factory was founded on March, 1949, original named the Print Shop of Taiwan Province Secretary Office. It was later organized under the Ministry of Finance. Over 60 years of service in printing papers, receipts, lottery, magazines, classified documents, and bonds for the government institutions.

Sanmao, Writer, (1943-1991)

Sanmao's work ranges from translating, travel writing, novels, and translation of Spanish comic book strips.

Sanmao has come to represent the epitome of the cultivated, liberated woman; someone who traveled the world in her thirst for learning, and was then prepared to settle down in the loneliness of the desert, then later in the Canary Islands, to be with the love of her life.

Image: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Sahara-Sanmao/dp/140888187X

Futuro Houses, UFO Houses, (1978) and Taipei 1010 (1999)

The alien spacecraft-looking structures were the brainchild of Finnish Architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s. The Futuristic design was an expression of creativity that was thought would attract buyers but the concept was a bit more altruistic as it was thought to be a viable answer to help solve housing issues all over the world. Now left abandoned, the houses continue to attract tourists, including architects and designers, from all over the world and have been used in music videos and photoshoots.

Even though this is architectural design I feel that around this time (late 60's and 70's) the buzz (no pun intended) around space was felt around the world, impacting everything, any everyone, within art, design. music, science.

I also wanted to add Taipei 101 as it was designed by local architects C.Y Lee and C.P Wang. It was the worlds tallest building from 2004-2010. It's design is very eastern and the building itself is meant to symbolise bamboo, an icon of learning and growth.

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/647040671445181028/

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/250723904233832889/

Chin Men theatre

As mentioned in my lecture reflection, Chin Men Theatre in Tainan is the only movie theatre in Taiwan that still employees an artist to hand paint their movie posters to advertise the movies currently on show. Artist Yan Jhen-fa has been hand painting movie posters for Chin Men theatre for over 48 years, although he is now partially blind, he continues to do so. This is how businesses advertised around the world before the advances of technology. There's still evidence of hand painted advertisements on the sides of buildings everywhere.

Image: By (me) Charles Howe

In fact, Gucci is bringing back this fading tradition with murals that can be seen on the side of buildings in big cities around the world, such as the one (below) on the side of a building in Taipei.

Image: http://www.dfunmag.com.tw/gucci-art-wall-taiwan-taipei/


O.OO (Production)

Formed by two graphic designers, O.OO is a design studio based in Taipei, Taiwan, specilising in risograph and design.

"Since opening we have been offering Design and Risograph printing

solutions.  We believe that with every new project or challenge, we can uncover solutions, and discover the possibilities of Design and Risograph printing."

Website: https://odotoo.com

Image: (above) (https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x3442aa37450685e5%3A0x6e57032d725a19d0!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOsShoIlgT8tbQpE-W64ipD-7LzsXFI5i-PYTNF%3Dw480-h320-k-no!5s0.00%20design%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipMPgGnJPx8Hdg293c_N9X9L49hNf9TblFQ657Nc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZoZTF36rtAhVQCqYKHTyYCXoQoiowE3oECBcQAw

Article On O.OO in 'The Big Issue' (Taiwan)

Onion Design Associates (Practice)

A multidisciplinary graphic design studio based in Taipei. Onion Design was founded in 1999. The company comprises of seven people and they create identity design, graphic design, and web design. The company statement reads, "Solving a multitude of problems with as little design as possible."

The company is also a 2-Time Grammy nominee for Best Album Packaging at the 57th and 62nd Grammy Awards as well as winner of the the 30th Golden Melody Award Best music packaging which reflects Taiwanese temple culture (a couple of images of a Taiwanese temple are below).



Image (above): https://www.behance.net/gallery/72382763/Nominated-for-2020-Grammy-packaging-Hold-That-Tiger

Images (above): By (me) Charles Howe

We Graphic Design (Practice)

"Who We Are? "We" is a promotion dedicated to branded content. Our core value, providing creativity that exceeds expected value. Simplify the process and create clear and simple solutions that reflect the respect, appreciation and listening of all. And provide reasonable honest advice, arrange collaborative ration, promote smooth project thinking and execution. Create a win-win cooperation belief. In the past, worked as a creative in Taiwan's top ten advertising agencies; now, join the ranks of image designers. We are committed to "timeliness" and "human effectiveness" in the design of commissioned projects, in the process, we can help you find the right solution, listen to your needs, and get the greatest cooperation and trust between each other."



Image: https://wexgd.com/concept

Lucky Sparks (Production)

Lucky Sparks is a visionary collective of dedicated filmmakers whose passion for storytelling is the beating heart of our imaginative work. With collaboration as the foundation of our process we create one-of-a-kind films that celebrate curiosity, nurture the human spirit, and offer new perspectives.

Their company statement reads, "Since 2013 we've been on a mission to redefine global collaboration and build a team as diverse as our clients. Today our extraordinary production and post production teams continue to grow as talented and driven creators join our ranks. Our success comes from the incredible stories, the diverse backgrounds, and unique experiences of our crew that allows us to effectively navigate today's interconnected media landscape, provide innovative creative services, and create original content that resonates with audiences around the world."



Image: https://transform.tw/project/39?

Weakaup (Practice)

Weakaup has won the German Red Dot Design Award and Gold Dot Design Award recommended graphic visual designer was founded so far, to provide rational, innovative brand design services.

Their company statement reads, "Sleep maybe there will be inspiration", in the shallow sleep brainstorming, often awakened by sudden inspiration; by creativity to wake you up, with this concept, as the energy of the enterprise, coupled with young seeds, compared to Old sorghum, more innovative flavor.We provide young ideas and ideas,with hummingbird-like enthusiasm,with rational, innovative design point of view, to provide quality design services."



Image (above): From Google Maps

Tin Shack Printing Company (Production)

Lin’s philosophy is to export Taiwan’s industry-leading technology to the world, and to present Taiwan’s design skills on the global stage.



Images (above): https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=2543


I hope that my choices above reflect some of the best that Taiwan has to offer. I wanted my selection to be, not only diverse but unique to Taiwan, which is reflected in their work. I feel that O.OO are a fun, energetic team that is on the top of their game boasting numerous awards. I still have more to find out about O.OO and I'll update as and when I do. Onion Associates are also making their mark with two Grammy nominees under their belt for their album design. There's little information about Onion on the internet but I have sent them an email with questions to find out more.

This has been a very insightful challenge. Although I have been living in Taiwan for just over a year and a half now I still feel I'm in unfamiliar surroundings much of the time. Language, culture, and writing is still alien to me and so researching local design practices/production companies was a huge learning process. I've enjoyed creating this post as I have learnt so much. Such as I didn't know that Onion Associates had been Grammy-nominated twice for its album design work. Most recent (62nd Grammy Awards, 2020) saw Taiwan's unique temple imagery influencing the album cover for Muddy Basin Ramblers.

I feel that doing this challenge in a completely different country where I grew up is hugely beneficial. I'm learning so much about a new culture by doing this course. I feel that I'm already getting to know a lot more about graphic design in Taiwan. Although this challenge felt daunting at first, it paid off and will continue to do so, in many ways.


WOODWARD, Daisy. 2017. The Man Who Changed the Face of Album Artwork. Online. Another Man [accessed September 24th 2020]

WEN, Dr. Huei Chou. Researching Taiwanese Design History In The Context of World Design History. Online. Asia University. [accessed September 24th 2020]

PINK, Jessie. 2016. Tracing the beginnings of the punk fanzine. Online. Dazed. [accessed September 24th 2020]

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