Yuan Xu is a graphic designer, currently based in China. Her work focuses on the value of print and materiality of information, and explores the possibilities of printed media in a digital context. She graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth’s Visual Communication course with a first class degree in 2019. She is a member of International Society of Typographic Designers.
My practice focuses on the life stories and memories of older generations. By analyzing existing material from my family (old photographs, film, artifacts, prints), and documenting stories told by my grandparents, I aim to evoke and represent memory and time based on their personal experiences.
Print is my chosen format, for I believe that the materiality of printed matter can enhance the value of the information. In Beixiang, the transformation from vernacular language to tangible print is the process of contextualizing and materializing the information. The texture and touch of the paper transmits the content into a physical space, connects it to the present, and creates a unique relationship with audiences.
Beixiang (North Lane) is an ongoing project which explores and reassembles personal family history through the insight of earlier generations. The dialogues stage a promising extent of validity towards an era of history.
The textual content of Beixiang Vol.1 is based on a thirty-minute-long conversation between my grandparents and I (grandma in lead). Grandma shares her experience about how she found her job back then and how she raised her children. The vernacular puts on a more saturated color to the stories happened during 60s–70s.
The design of this volume mimics the visual systems of propaganda posters made during the specific time scale corresponding to the textual content of each page. The utilization of black and white colour is a reflection of this blurry memory, and also the shadow of time. Since the dialogue occurred in fragments, the design retains a sense of randomness. It is also the way I approach the history of previous generations. The work is printed with risograph, which echos the printing quality of the past. The format is referred to the old notebook, which also provide a nostalgic reading experience for audience.
Medium:Print, Four Colour Risograph
Size:95 x 160mm, 48p
The second volume of Beixiang is also based on a conversation I had with my grandma. In this volume my grandma talked about how a culture revolution started, and her experience, as well as her personal reflection. My grandma’s humorous and insightful narrative unfolds a vivid and reliable image of this specific history, and provides a unique lens for understanding this movement.
The design language refers to propaganda posters from the Cultural Revolution, and the images on each page correspond to the text. The typography and editorial design are not only a way to translate these historical content into a modern context, but also a representation of my impression of the narrative and this age.
Beixiang will continue to showcase conversations focused on printed matter alongside other forms of representation. The complete series will gather a richer narrative reflecting Chinese culture and history from a personal perspective.