Chinese Font Design

blogtypeNei Ho/Ni Hao! which is “greetings” in both Cantonese and Mandarin. I’m Julius Hui, a type designer for Dalton Maag, and I’m both a born native of, and currently based in, Hong Kong. I’m very glad to be able to share with you my knowledge of Chinese (Hanzi) type design – this is probably the very first time that Chinese type design has been properly exposed to the world.

It has long been a myth, not only believed in the Western world, but also by Chinese people, that the Chinese are not willing to share their typographic knowledge with a third party, or only to disclose it to a very limited extent. There is also a lack of willingness to systemise the knowledge available. This is mainly because of the Chinese culture of the craftsman, which is not limited to type design, but add to this the incredibly huge character set, and the number of Chinese type designers is very limited as a result. In fact there are probably no more than ten type designers who are capable of developing a Chinese character set entirely on their own. To sum up, it has always been one of the toughest careers of all in design.

But I have been very lucky. Five years of design studies at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University provided me with plenty of time and space to get myself focused on type and typography research. Upon graduating, I decided to take a Chinese type apprenticeship under a type master, learning to draw Chinese characters stroke by stroke, as well as studying massive weight-balancing and structure refinements, the three main processes of Chinese type design.

3 years of apprenticeship was tough, but extremely meaningful. I set out on my own afterwards, until I met Bruno last summer. I then joined up with my lovely colleagues, who were coping with the fast-growing client needs for Chinese type design. Having learnt a comprehensive set of skills, and combined these with my academic background, they have asked me to be an evangelist for good Chinese type design, demystifying that ‘wild west of type design’ and all the challenges ahead – stay tuned with our new blog as I’ll be writing more!

Dor Jei/Xie Xie!

Julius Hui

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