Rene Wanner's Poster Page


Design + Life, a series of 10 books published by Jianping He

All books are edited and designed by Jianping He in the series Design + Life, published by Lingnan Art Publishing House, Guangzhou (CN) (2004); 166 pages, 17 x 24 cm, many colour illustrations, mostly full page; softcover; in chinese and english; CNY 68 (about US$ 8), the whole set of ten volumes is available in Europe at EUR 250 from

The respective ISBN numbers are: Michal Batory 7-5362-2848-1 ; Ronald Curchod 7-5362-2849-X ; Andrey Logvin 7-5362-2850-3 ; Alan Fletcher 7-5362-2853-8 ; Bruno Monguzzi 7-5362-2852-X ; Alain Le Quernec 7-5362-2853-8 ; Alex Jordan 7-5362-2854-6 ; Yossi Lemel 7-5362-2855-4 ; U.G. Sato 7-5362-2856-2 ; Henning Wagenbreth 7-5362-2857-0

Jianping He

Sample page from Henning Wagenbreth's book

Jianping He, a young chinese graphic designer, living, working and teaching in Berlin, Germany, has published a large number of monographies on contemporary graphic designers during the last two years, and keeps producing even more. They are intended for chinese graphic designers as an introduction to the internationally leading personalities in their field. This immense work is possible not only because Jianping He has seemingly inexhaustible energy and is well organized, but also because he has a clear and simple concept for the series and sticks to it:

Each book begins with a full page portrait, followed by 10 answers for 10 questions, a short article, often written by a colleague of the artist, and then lots of pictures, reproductions of works but also photos, sketches, views of the studio, posters in their natural surroundings in the streets and so on. They conclude with a biography, list of exhibitions, awards and publications.

Jianping works closely with his subjects, and apparently gives them a lot of freedom to present themselves, including sitting with them in front of the monitor and fine tuning the layout together. They of course like this opportunity, and in Warsaw last summer during the poster biennial, I heard several of them raving about "this young chinese guy who published a book about ME!" . With 166 pages each, the books are spacious enough to also present previously unpublished material and I discovered new posters even of designers that I thought I was familiar with.

Here are some more samples:

Michal Batory
Ronald Curchod
Andrey Logvin
Alan Fletcher
Bruno Monguzzi
Alain Le Quernec
Alex Jordan, Nous travaillons ensemble
Yossi Lemel
U.G. Sato

and some answers to the 10 questions:
  1. How is design present in your life?
    "Graphic design, used to be omnipresent in my life, day and night. Graphic design was not a part of my life, it was my life, because of it, may be, I missed some other important things... Life is so short." (Alain Le Quernec)
  2. Does your design inspiration come from your life-experience? Where does your inspiration come from?
    "Inspiration is only the result of experience, when the past meets the present. It is only a question of dialogue between these two worlds." (Michal Batory)
  3. Who is the main influence in your life? Who is the main influence in your design?
    "A few people I was lucky to meet in my youth and who revealed to me that the world could be seen from a different perspective than that of a kitchen table. A few films that I saw when I was young - among them the films of Tarkovsky. My parents. My brother. My children. My dreams. (Andrey Logvin)
  4. What is your life-philosophy? And what is your design-philosophy?
    "You live in a human society. So participate to make it human. Design should be made to do that." (Alex Jordan)
  5. Which was the happiest moment in your life?
    "I obviously can't remember but I would like to answer: when I was born." (Bruno Monguzzi)
  6. What is your motivation to stick to the design-job?
    "It is to share my humor and esprit I found out for every one. It will bring happiness all over the world." (U.G. Sato)
  7. What are your top personal achievements?
    "To get younger as I get older and to be less inhibited as I get more restricted". (Alan Fletcher)
  8. How do you manage your free time?
    "Once a week on Saturdays I stay home and find time to be with my family, rest and sometimes study the bible. I rarely have free time .. " (Yossi Lemel)
    "I regularly play music, african drums and a vietnamese martial art, Hokido. Those two activities enable me to have moments of meditation, introspection and self control." (Michal Batory)
  9. What are your hobbies?
    "I don't have any hobbies. Hobbies are the result of an alienated life." (Henning Wagenbreth)
    "Listen to Anna reading aloud before I sleep." (Bruno Monguzzi)
  10. When do you plan to retire and how do you plan after your retirement?
    "I'm not planning to ever retire, why?" (Ronald Curchod)
    "For a creator, this question doesn't really exist." (Michal Batory)
    "I didn't buy a coffin yet." ( Henning Wagenbreth)
    "To retire from what? .." (Alex Jordan)
    "I will never retire until death .." (U.G. Sato)

Jianping He is doing an admirable job for cultural exchange and these books are well made in every respect. Now wouldn't it be interesting if a young designer from the western world would go to live in China and started publishing books about the graphic designers there?

home   more reviews  page created on January 27, 2005 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /