Made for China: Global Collaboration and Understanding in Advertising Design

By Lisa Scharoun.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

With a burgeoning economy and one of the world’s largest populations of consumers, the growth and opportunities for graphic design in Mainland China seem endless. Western design and advertising agencies are eager to capture the imaginations of the Mainland audience. The visual communications strategies proposed by western advertising agencies however, often display an inadequate understanding of the historical relevance of symbols and long held value sets of the Chinese consumer. Some agencies take the viewpoint that the Mainland audience wants a copy of things ‘western.’ This can be observed in the shopping districts of most major cities in China where billboards displaying oversized images of Caucasian models dominate the visual environment. Another commonly used strategy is to use a mix of visually interesting Chinese symbols without understanding the full meaning and implication of those symbols. The above illustrates that design educators must begin the process of cross-cultural awareness at the undergraduate level to assure that more effective creative strategies can be achieved in the future. This paper explores cultural confusion in design and the possibilities of overcoming these misunderstandings through cross-cultural collaboration.

Keywords: China, Cross-Cultural Design, Advertising, Value Sets

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.291-302. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.154MB).

Dr. Lisa Scharoun

Lecturer of Graphic Design, School of Communications and Creative Arts, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Lisa Scharoun is an artist and lecturer in graphic design at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Lisa completed a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design at Florida Southern College in Lakeland FL, USA in 2000 and subsequently worked in the advertising industry in the US before commencing a Masters in design studies at The University of the Arts London, Central St. Martin’s College in 2001. On finishing her studies, Lisa continued working in the advertising and design industry in London from 2002-2003, specializing in branding and visual identity. From 2003-2005 Lisa lectured in the visual communications department at Raffles Design Institute in Shanghai. During her experience in Shanghai, Lisa was especially intrigued by the presence of western fashion advertising and its affect on the youth of Shanghai. She has just recently completed a PhD entitled ‘Western Fashion Advertising in Mainland Urban China and its effects on the Self Image of Youth’ at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Australia in March 2008. Lisa has exhibited extensively notably a collaborative multimedia work at the Xhibit group show in London, UK in 2001, a solo show of oil paintings at the Room with a View Gallery in Shanghai (2004), acrylic paintings in Women’s Work group exhibition (Room with a View Gallery) in 2005, and photographic work in Foreigner Focus Shanghai at the Meiyuan Arts Center in 2005. Most recently, she staged ‘Visions of Utopia’ a collaborative exhibition with Photographer Frances Tatarovic at Shang Gallery, Shanghai which reflected on the parallels between Maoist propaganda art with contemporary advertising in Urban China in November 2008.


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