“I was very excited when I found out that the album needed a bilingual identity,” says New York-based designer Qingyu Wu of her record cover and campaign artwork for psychedelic rock band Chui Wan. “I always find an unexpected, magic moment when working between two totally different languages or writing systems. Sometimes they look awkward together or feel forced, but sometimes they can be fascinating and beautiful.”
Qingyu’s work on Chui Wan’s album The Landscape the Tropics Never Had is certainly the latter. The two typefaces happily co-habit while highlighting each other’s individuality. “Chinese and Latin fonts are traditionally written with different instruments and the character structures are also very different,” Qingyu tells It’s Nice That. “When I tried to connect the two, I not only wanted to integrate the content and form of different personalities into the same system but also create the right atmosphere around them. It’s like the relationship of yin and yang in Chinese philosophy, seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent.”
Keen to radically depart from traditional expectations of each language system, the Latin is Ogg by Sharp Type, chosen for its “unique mix of calligraphic and Old Style serif typographic features”, whereas the Chinese font is the “simple, comely and rigorous” FZ Lan Ting Hei S UL GB by Founder Group. “I wanted the design to be unique and leave room for imagination, just like Chui Wan’s music, I think the design should able to translate or represent the tracks’ ambiguous, poetic, and textural melodies.”
Qingyu teamed the type up with photographic work by Chinese artist Li Gang, who uses a “wild mix” of materials such as plaster, hair and discarded kettles. “Li Gang’s work possesses the rare ability to combine the universal and the specific, the intimate and the distant,” says Qingyu. “It’s similar to Chui Wan’s music in that it’s a kind of atomisation of reality.” It’s a standpoint that Qingyu also recognises in her own approach.
Originally from China, Qingyu studied at graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University before scooping up an MFA in fine art from Cranbrook Academy of Art last May. She’s a frequent collaborator with Maybe Mars Records, the label that released The Landscape the Tropics Never Had, and is now the director design of its experimental noise subsidiary Maybe Noise. With a new record design on the way and projects up her sleeve ranging from beauty branding to toy packaging, we can’t wait to see where this talented grad goes next.