OFF CANVAS maps the creative subcultures of Beijing where burgeoning communities are stimulating independent expressions of art, music, fashion, and skate.
Play is a literal name for an abstraction of nostalgic traditions of Beijing, captured in type. The original font is Ying’s own labor of love, having experimented meticulously on it for over four years based off an ancient Chinese script. Here in the Wudaoying Hutongs where an emerging commerce driven by enterprising young creatives is developing, he uses Play to commemorate the heritage of Chinese youth culture via the popular childhood games that used to haunt the alleys: shuttlecock, spinning tops, marbles, hoops, and jumprope. The spirit of “play” helped to organically engage and connect the community in the past, and may now serve as a unifying memory among the hutong again. To illustrate the dynamism of the games, Ying deconstructs each of the words and phrases into groups of movements, joined by abstract strokes that force the viewer to re-combine the phrases, just like a game. To emphasize the cheer and good will that these games brought, the character for “mouth”– which is depicted in a smiling manner– has also been emphasized in each word.
Ying Yonghui comes from the southern island Xiangshan County in Zhejiang Province. Over that last decade he has established his craft within Shanghai as an artist and graphic designer. Within the China design community he is a known for his expertise and love of fonts and is celebrated as one of the industry’s foremost typography designers and researchers. More recently he has expanded his notoriety to the greater design scene with collaborative work and projects on various typography design and exhibitions across China. His work is defined by a sense of playfulness and challenge to convention and tradition, while upholding the beauty of Chinese script.