Huang hai poster

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Star Wars is a Story for the World”: Artist Huang Hai on His Stunning Jedi Poster

A Jedi meditates. It’s an image we’ve seen before in film, animation, and comics. But not like this.

The ground seems to ripple in waves beneath the Padawan learner; his lightsaber levitates, pointing upward; peering through the windows before him, we see glimpses of X-wings and TIE fighters in battle, while columns cast imposing shadows. Taking a step back, we see that this Padawan sits not in a temple or dojo. Rather, the wall between him and these images of war takes the form of something much darker: the mask of Darth Vader.

"Star Wars is a Story for the World” by Huang Hai

This is the work of Huang Hai, a renowned Chinese poster artist who recently offered the world his interpretation of Star Wars with an illustration called “MASTER · Tribute.” Released last month to mark the Lunar New Year, it’s a personal, spiritual piece, reflecting Star Wars themes but directly informed by Huang’s own culture. “I hoped to express the Force through the lens of Eastern aesthetics. To show it through traditional Chinese art forms other than ink painting and Chinese brush calligraphy,” he tells over email. “I meant to show what a Jedi represents in terms of Eastern philosophies. A Jedi embodies a kind of culture, and cultures, per se, are always interlinked.”

Huang is a prequel-generation fan. It was the stories of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé that captured his imagination — a factor that could explain the use of a Padawan over, say, Luke or Leia or Rey as his poster’s central figure. “My first Star Wars experience was watching The Phantom Menace in 1999. It was so visually stunning that I started to devour all the Star Wars movies and stories that I could get my hands on,” Huang says. “I came to know about George Lucas and the Star Wars galaxy that is full of wonders.”

Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).

He also, however, saw immediate connections to Chinese culture as he became a fan. And those links would ultimately come to influence his poster years later. “Jedi have a lot in common with Xia Ke, the Chinese knights in the traditional martial arts novels. Both fascinate me,” he says. With this personal and cultural connection, Huang took care to convey his feelings about Star Wars when he began work on his illustration.

“Honestly, it was not an easy journey. I spent four months pondering over what point of view I should come from to present the limitless galaxy of Star Wars. What elements best represent the Star Wars? Jedi? Lightsabers? Darth Vadar’s helmet? The Force? I hoped that I could come up with an original point of view to showcase the Force,” he says. “We finally zeroed in on one idea: ‘looking into oneself by looking into the Force.’ What it takes for a Padawan to become a Jedi Master is not one’s skill level, but his or her balanced control of the Force. In Chinese, we have a phrase, Zi Xing, meaning ‘introspection,’ which is akin to the concept we were pursuing.”

But when one looks at oneself, the reflection isn’t always pretty.

“This is why I chose to look into the Force from the inside of the helmet,” Huang says. “Facing the temptation from the dark side of the Force is a test that every Padawan faces. Isn’t it a test that everyone faces in real life? The Force is like the two sides of light. There is the dark side and there is the light side, and they always co-exist. It is how the universe always is.  What we should do is to find the balance in it.”

Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back

Regarding that balance and how Huang represents it, asks specifically about the role Vader’s grille plays in his poster. It forms windows to the outside world, but also casts oppressive shadows — making it almost look like the bars of a jail cell.

“Great observation!” Huang says. “Does the grille indicate a prison cell or a room with window? For a Padawan, will he or she see despair or hope? Everyone will come to their own conclusion. Star Wars is a universal story. Wherever we come from, we can always relate to this story and arrive at an understanding of our own.”

Whatever meaning fans may take from his poster, Huang’s Eastern-influenced interpretation of the galaxy far, far away truly comes from the heart. “It’s my great honor to have this opportunity,” he says. “In my eyes, Star Wars is a story for the world. It’s a story that shows we share so much in common. It’s a story that every storyteller dreams to create.” All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

TAGS:Lunar New Year, Star Wars Art





Designer Huang Hai

It is rare to see Chinese graphic designers to be included in the context of Western design textbooks. As the design field transitions to a more open market, talented designers from all around the world should be showcased with their works and inspire future students. Huang Hai is one of the most well-known poster designers from China, who significantly combined Chinese art styles and modern approaches together through a simple, but elegant perspective (HUANG Hai: The Poster as a Tribute to the Heroes behind the Scenes). His works always specifically depict the feeling of the movie before the audience even watch it by using different stylistic techniques. The designs do not contain a lot of abstract shapes or unique colour combinations, but the stylistic techniques capture the eyes and make the viewers want to explore and discover the various possibilities. 

Fig 1. Spirited Away Poster, 2019, Huang Hai

The most important step stone in his career was when he designed the movie poster for the film, The Sun Also Rises, directed by Jiang Wen. It was extremely different from the typical posters created during the time, and it made a dramatic contrast that separated him from other designers (Chen. Global Times). The poster is very simple, but the use of white and red colours contrast along with the figure in the center with the type capture the eyes. 

Fig 2. The Sun Also Rises, 2007, Huang Hai

A few of his recent designs that undoubtedly captured the public’s attention are the making of the movie posters for the film Big Fish & Begonia, and The Golden Era, which are both directly associated with traditional Chinese art forms and the incorporation of Chinese calligraphy. Especially for the film Shadow, the posters heavily highlight the Chinese calligraphy along with the combination of the characters. The powerful strokes of the Chinese character with the black and white contrast explained the feeling of what the movie is conveying. He does not portray the type and objects separately, instead, he combines them together in a dynamic perspective. Huang Hai iterates on the weight and the movement of the strokes as the main element along with the traditional colour combinations and brush techniques. Huang Hai’s works are so calming, that captures the essence of the film and there are no extra decorative elements that are meaningless. Everything has its own meaning that represents a specific meaning from the film. The sense of hand-drawn emphasized on the brush strokes provides a perspective of originality. Due to the release of the film “The Golden Era” in various countries, Huang Hai created different designs to match each country’s characteristics (Fan. Now Introducing: HuangHai).  For example, the poster made for France release focuses on the movement of the smoke and in contrast with the background colour, it provides a sense of romanticism and mystery.

Fig 3. Big Fish & Begonia Poster, 2016, Huang Hai
Fig 4. Shadow Poster, 2018, Huang Hai
Fig 4. The Golden Era Poster (China), 2014, Huang Hai
Fig 5. The Golden Era Poster (Japan), 2014, Huang Hai
Fig 7. The Golden Era Poster (France), 2014, Huang Hai
Fig 8. The Golden Era Poster (Korea), 2014, Huang Hai

The Graphic Design: A New History by Stephen F. Eskilson includes detailed descriptions of the various historical art periods and important Western designers such as William Morris and Edward McKnight Kauffer. However, there is a dramatic transition in design style and the present-day aesthetics people appreciate has changed. It is crucial to be updated with the present-day designers, who are the main domination and influencers of the current market.

Fig 9. Masters In The Forbidden City Posters, 2016, Huang Hai

Work Cited:

Chen, Xi. “Graphic Artist Huang Hai Strikes Again with ‘Spirited Away’ Posters.” Global Times, 23 June 2019,

“HUANG Hai: The Poster as a Tribute to the Heroes behind the Scenes.” 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival, 18 Mar. 2019,

Fan, Ania. “Now Introducing: HuangHai.” Graphic Design Hist20th C FW2018S2, 5 Apr. 2019,

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Chinese actor Jing Boran poses for a picture with characters from the Spirited Away film Photo: IC

 A poster for Spirited Away designed by Huang Hai Photo: IC

"Don't look back, keep moving forward." 

Under these words, Chihiro Ogino, the main character from the famous Japanese animated movie Spirited Away, walks barefoot down a railroad track covered in water. To her front left, the warm glow of a street lamp lights up the water, where the reflections of the white dragon Haku, a faceless man with a black body known as No-Face and a dark blue galaxy full of little twinkling stars can be seen around her. 

"What a marvelous poster! It invokes the beautiful memory of watching Spirited Awayfor the first time. These excellent posters made me want to watch the movie again," Wu Qi, a freelancer living in Shanghai and a fan of the film, told the Global Times.

The Chinese posters for Spirited Awaywon a flood of praise in China and abroad during the run up to the movie's Chinese mainland debut on Friday, causing poster designer Huang Hai to once again become the center of discussion. Some are describing his success with this and other posters for major films as "the rise of the Chinese designer."

Road to success

Born in East China's Fujian Province, Huang gained an interest in painting as a child. Interestingly enough, although he graduated from the Art College of Xiamen University. Huang's first job found him not working as an artist, but as a social journalist at a TV station. 

The job still had a major impact on his life as it raised his awareness on social issues. His third year on the job, he decided he wanted more. 

Huang entered a training program in Beijing run by the British advertising company Ogilvy, which is based in New York. His teacher, a respected designer from Taiwan, provided him a lot of guidance. 

The high-intensity speed of the program did not exhaust Huang in the slightest. On the contrary, he found everything very exciting and eagerly tried to learn all he could. This experience opened up a broader creative vision for his future poster designs. 

"Advertising is the combination of creativity and business. The difficulty of advertising is how to get to people's hearts. Touching people's hearts is the core and the essence of a successful advertisement, which is the focus of my design," said Huang in a report by in 2015. 

After finishing the Ogilvy training program, Huang went to work as an art director at a domestic Chinese company. One day he was tasked with designing the poster for Chinese film director Jiang Wen's movie The Sun Also Rises. At the time, Huang had no idea how this would change the trajectory of his life. "I did not have any concerns because I had never done a movie poster before. I just felt it was fun," Huang said. After many proposals and drafts, the posters for The Sun Also Rises finally debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, where they received unanimous praise. 

New adventure

The success of his first poster gave Huang the motivation to embark on a new career adventure. 

"I had engaged in advertising for many years, but I felt that designing posters is much more fun than advertisements. I enjoyed the process of creation and rediscovered that feeling I had when I was in college," he said. 

Three years ago, Huang founded the Zhuyewenhua studio, or the "Bamboo Art Studio." Huang said he chose bamboo to represent his new business because of its symbolic connotations in Chinese culture, such as the plant's straightness representing uprightness. Additionally, the name of the studio sounds similar to the Chinese word for "enough," which is a reminder for him to be modest. 

Huang said that he feels very fortunate. 

"Three years ago, I didn't expect my career would become so full of life. It has been like a big wave, pushing the development of the industry," he noted in the report.

While many in the film industry are busy pursuing stardom, Huang's attitude has remained simple. He said one of the industry's charms is that everyone, including actors, film directors and scriptwriters, has a valuable role to play, but not everyone has to be in the spotlight. 

Window into a world 

"Each movie is a world, and a poster is a window to see into that world. But if it's just a picture that lacks any content, it won't entice people to see the film," said Huang.

"'Simple but creative and powerful,' this is Huang's unique style of design," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times. 

"Huang's posters are not abstract or complicated. The posters catch your eye and touch your heart at the glance because the main body is outstanding and all the elements are from the movie," Shi explained, pointing to another of Huang's Spirited Awayposters as an example. The poster shows the character of Chihiro Ogino crouched down and hugging herself in front of a wall painted with various characters from the film, including a large version of herself. The viewpoint makes it seem as if the larger version of herself is reaching out and comforting the small kneeling girl. In the middle of the poster are the words "Do not lose yourself" in Chinese, emphasizing the theme of the movie. 

"I really like Huang's design because he puts many Chinese elements into his work. I started to be his fan after I saw his posters for Stand by Me Doraemon, one of my favorite Japanese animated movies. Huang designed Doraemon as the Monkey King in Journey to the West, which is quite impressive because the Monkey King also has many magic skills like Doraemon," Song Chenwei, an animation designer, told the Global Times.
Newspaper headline: Rise of Chinese design



Movie posters designed by artist Huang Hai, including for The Sun Also Rises, Big Fish & Begonia Shoplifters, Dying to Survive, Tai-Chi 0, The Ghouls, My Neighbor Totoro, Ashe is the Purest White Shadow, Hidden Man, The Golden Era, and Massters in the Forbidden City.

A design for Japanese film Shoplifters

Dying To Survive’s poster uses Indian elements since the story is about smuggling cancer drugs from India.

Steampunk martial arts film Tai Chi 0.

Grave-robbing thriller Mojin

His poster for the Chinese screening of My Neighbor Totoro

This poster for Hidden Man would work really well as a witch movie poster by replacing the jumping man with a witch a broomsticks

The Goldern Era. More from this set here.

Finally, this set of posters for “Masters In The Forbidden City” depicts art masters working in the broken parts of artifacts.

This entry was posted in Film and tagged Ash is Purest White, Big Fish & Begonia, Dying to Survive, Hidden Man, Huang Hai, My Neighbor Totoro, Shadow, Tai Chi 0, The Ghouls, The Golden Era, The Sun Also Rises by idarklight. Bookmark the permalink. Sours:

Poster huang hai

The World’s Best Movie Posters Are From China

It’s hard to see movie posters as anything other than glorified advertisements that are pretty ignorable, especially when you consider how similar and clichéd they can be. But the Chinese have elevated the humble movie poster to a bonafide art form, with artist Huang Hai being one of the best examples.

My Neighbor Totoro Poster by Huang Hai
Shadow Poster by Huang Hai
Big Fish and Begonia Poster by Huang Hai

The Global Times recently ran a Huang Hai profile, which includes details about his training at the Ogilvy advertising agency, his own studio, and his first poster, for Jiang Wen’s acclaimed 2007 film The Sun Also Rises.

Last year saw the first official release of a Studio Ghibli film in China, when My Neighbor Totoro screened in December. The next Ghibli film was Spirited Away, which arrived in theaters last week (and easily defeated Toy Story 4 at the Chinese box office). Several gorgeous posters were created for the occasion:

Spirited Away Poster by Huang Hai
Spirited Away Poster by Huang Hai
Spirited Away Poster by Zao Dao

Based on these posters and the aforementioned My Neighbor Totoro poster, I can’t wait to see the posters for the other Ghibli films coming to China, which include Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke.

Even Hollywood blockbusters have received similar treatment, including Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Godzilla king monsters poster 1
Godzilla king monsters poster 2
Godzilla king monsters poster 3
Spider man far from home poster

Granted, not every Chinese movie poster is a work of art — arguably, the vast majority of Chinese movie posters are pretty basic and clichéd themselves — but the ones above (and others like them) are proof that advertising and art don’t have to be at odds at the box office. And yes, I want them all hanging on my walls.

Read more about China, Design, and Movie Posters.

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Downhill Racer - 1969 US 3 sheet Poster, Linen backed

Chinese Film Poster Design: Huang Hai

In 2018, designer Huang hai worked with director Yimou Zhang created the two legendary film posters for Zhang’s new film Shadow. In an interview, Huang mentioned that this project lasted half a year to get the best result. These two posters were named with Yinyang and Black white, which truly reflects the idea of shadow.

Recently, Huang and Zhang worked together again for Zhang’s new film, One Second. However, this time, instead of spending half of a year deciding on the best two, they released nine posters together. Zhang says the film One Second is a love letter he wrote to the film industry and his youth’s memory. Film, the carrier of the most impactful memory about movies in the 60s of China, was chosen to be the poster’s main visual element. It is a tribute to the movie industry, also a farewell to the film generations.



Now discussing:

After all, the white entity stood on the bell tower and looked at us at dawn, when the sun rose. A scene from the film "Viy" suddenly came to mind, there were ghouls and ghouls, they were afraid of daylight and the crowing of the first roosters. Although there were no roosters in the village, the hot Yin sun was shining with might and main and it was daytime and there are.

No ghosts during the day, and this calmed me down. Be careful, dear, snuggle up to the wall and look at your feet.

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