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A Visual Identity of 56 Ethnic Groups in China

Today, international pictorial language is increasingly playing an essential role in achieving cross- cultural communication. This does not mean, however, that we have to use exactly the same pictorial language in different countries. The first research question of this project is whether it is possible to keep cultural features, but still communicate to international audiences efficiently through pictogram design. I have conducted research into the connection between pictogram design and cultural identity, and established a starting point to study this field. As a Chinese person I am confident about exploring my own cultural background. The Chinese share a strong cultural identity, and it is worth considering Chinese culture in the design area. Therefore, my major project has been to explore the 56 ethnic groups in China, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Chinese use of visual language.

The aim of this project is to understand how the influence of national cultures can enhance ‘universal’ pictogram systems. In the context of design theory it relates to cultural identity and audience design, and specifically looks at the application of culture in pictogram design and the relationship with the audience. The target audience is not only international, local people and the Chinese embassy, but is also graphic designers and researchers who are interested in local design with cultural identity and the use of pictogram systems to convey information.

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