Graphic Design Examples Worldwide: How Nationality Reflects In Artworks

Graphic design is a lot like languages. It’s an identity; beautiful and enigmatic. Graphic design varies from culture to culture, influenced by a country’s culture, history and way of life. Just like art and music, graphic design aesthetics differ from culture to culture. There may be common elements found in a culture’s graphic design, not found in other cultures and vice versa.

We’re all very familiar with graphic design from the west, particularly in the US and UK. I will discuss and showcase graphic design from around the world, from the most interesting cultures: Latin America, China, Japan, Middle East, India and the Netherlands. Graphic design from these areas is a bit different, but still very aesthetically appealing.

Latin America

Latin America is occupied with 500 million people, consisting of 20 Spanish-speaking countries save for Portuguese Brazil. Latin America has produced the most unusual and energetic form of graphic expression history has seen. Art is alive and well in the streets of Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil. Building exteriors filled with graffiti & stencil art. Latin American design is a reflection of the rampant street art scene: colorful, tantalizing, soulful, and a bit naive.

Her art revolved around her surroundings and culture. It is diverse, given its hundreds of years of exploitative colonization from other countries. Latin America is one whole continent and stretches more than 21 million kilometers, but we see a common theme for all Latin American design: the latino’s love for life, dance and celebration.

by Jorge Alderete

By Victor Candia

by Frank Arbelo

Most Latin American posters have evident pop art and art deco influences. It makes use of contrasting colors, wacky typography and energetic shapes.

by Platinum

By Daniel Aviles

By Charis Tsevis

The latino’s piousness is evident with the use of religious themes and Roman Catholic symbols.

by Thiago Barros

Photo by Taschen

Propaganda, nationalism and revolution are also common themes in Latin American graphic design (especially in the Caribbean islands).

by Juan Camilo Rojas

By Frank Arbelo

by Ernesto Garcia Peña

Impressive Latin American Web Design

Weareplace

Estudio Monitor

RDYA

Pablo Alferi

Latin American graphic design shows the latino’s love for partying and celebration. Latino graphic designers are liberal when it comes to using bold colors and contrasting elements. Minimalism is also used, but mostly for web design–and it’s not as ‘minimal’ as it is in other places. The world can learn a lot from the Latin Americans; such as to take life less seriously and enjoy. They teach us to look at design not just visually, but with your six senses.

China

China is one of the oldest civilization, spanning at least 4,000 years. During its heyday, China was one of the most advanced societies in the world, but through imperialism and civil wars it began to decline. Still, China has a flourishing history of art, literature and culture.

Chinese graphic design is fairly new as compared to the west. It wasn’t until recently, in 1979, that China reopened their doors to the world again, welcoming new ideas and the latest technologies. The country is making a slow but sure move to democratic ways, becoming more liberal with new ideas, especially in art and design. China is surging with creative energy with a strong sense of nationalism (if not a bit xenophobic), so it’s no surprise that modern graphic design still employs the same design elements found in traditional Chinese art.

by Nod Young

by Doopaa.cn

'I Love Guangzhou' by Wu Zhen

by Jiaying Yan, Photo Courtesy of Maryellen McFadden

Graphic design in China was used as an effective means of illegal political expression. It was a vehicle for self-identity and self-expression.

by Su Yue

by Qian Qian, Photo Courtesy of Maryellen McFadden

by Nod Young

by Fizi Pao

Wonderful Chinese Web Design

Six Station

Wotoon Design

Conceives

Shizixiu

Chinese web design is addicted to using Flash. Web sites from China are highly interactive and playful. Some elements in graphic design are copied from other cultures. In the recent decade, Chinese graphic design is heavily influenced by the west, but still retains its own Chinese drive and soul. For example, design makes use of feng shui symbols, calligraphy, cultural festivities, etc.

Japan

Japanese contemporary art takes many forms: architecture, advertising, video games, anime and graphic design. Japan’s influence in art is immense, contributing many ideas in graphic design and modern art in general. Japanese graphic design is urban and offbeat. They show an affinity for neon colors, simulating the lights we see in downtown Tokyo at night.

Furoshiki. Photo Courtesy by Gurafiku

by Takeo Nakano

World Design Expo Poster by Koichi Sato

Neji Shiki Poster (Photo Courtesy of Gurafiku)

Japanese graphic design has heavy influences from Japanese traditional art and manga.

by Shigeru Mizuki

by Peter Mendelsund

by Mitsuteru Yokoyama

by Keisuke Nagatomo

Brilliant Japanese Web Design

Idemitsu

Ishiyama Senko

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Go Jimbou

Japanese graphic design is interesting because it’s radically different from what we are used to in the west. It’s extremely varied, and an infusion between the old and the new. On one side of the spectrum, it’s sleek, futuristic and very minimal. But on another, it is super cute, childish and wacky.

Middle East

The Middle East is seen by the west as mysterious, alluring and mystifying: it’s the land of sands, flying carpets and magic lamps, the kind most of us will only visit in our dreams. The Middle East is a paradox–this culture is wealthy with some of the oldest and most extensive art in history, boasting thousands of years of art. However, graphic design in the Middle East is still pretty recent. It’s still a struggle for the Arab world: freelancing is not a good way to earn a living here, the government is not very cooperative and there are only a few graphic design schools around.

Middle East graphic design is just as alluring and mystifying. It is strongly influenced by old calligraphy and  arabesque, or the repetition of forms and patterns.

by Khawar Bilal

by Fayez Al Harti

The Middle East has slowly opened themselves to the western culture of consumerism. The Arabs love their gold–and this affinity can be evident in design.

by Mohanad Shuraideh

Just like the whole world, the Middle East world has also caught on the minimalist bug, but still maintains the Middle Eastern vibe we’re all familiar with.

by Samhar Khuzam

by Samhar Khuzam

Photo by Media Me

Superb Middle Eastern Web Design

DU.ae

Zukhruf

Alama

Cocolicious

Middle Eastern design is rich in color and culture. Like other Asian countries, the Middle East prides herself in beautiful symbols and calligraphy.In some aspects, the region is still conservative in many matters. For example, they need to open themselves to the idea of freelancing, female graphic designers, etc. Nevertheless, the region is a hot-pot of new and intermixing ideas. They have adopted many Western ideas on design, but retain the identity that makes them distinct.

Netherlands

The Netherlands is a Dutch speaking country located in the Northwest of Europe, bordering Belgium to the south and Germany to the east. The Netherlands is a tiny country, but is home to the greatest artists in history: Rembrandt, van Gogh, van Eyck, Mondrian and van Doesburg.

Dutch graphic design tend to be individualistic, if not anarchic. They prefer clean, minimalist designs–this is where the De Stijl movement, precursor of the Minimalist movement, started after all. The Dutch are inclined towards conceptual art and contemporary themes. Simplicity is appreciated, and ‘undesign’ is a common design strategy here.

by Levi Van Veluw

Photo by Design.nl

by Another Company

by Studio Dumbar

Dutch designers often design conceptually. One of my favorites is the young Dutch graphic designer Victor van Gaasbeek, whose designs are typically Dutch, modern but make use of nature and natural elements.

by Victor van Gaasbeek

by Victor van Gasbeek

by Victor van Gaasbeek

Great Dutch Web Design

Jasper Janssen

ZwarteKoffie

Marius Roosendaal

Ewout van Lambalgen

The Netherlands and her neighboring countries create the trend when it comes to graphic and web design. Their art is clean, conceptual and smart. It doesn’t mean that it’s all serious and minimalist though–Dutch design can also be playful.

Maybe because of the government’s huge financial support for the arts, or the country’s prosperous economy, or probably the local’s passion for the arts, Dutch graphic design is among the most advanced in the world.

Conclusion

Because different cultures have a different history and story, we have different experiences, beliefs and customs. We see the world from a slightly different angle. Graphic Designers from around the world have their own approaches to art. Despite that, one thing is certain: good design will always be good design. Even if we don’t understand the meaning, symbol and calligraphy being used, we can distinguish good from bad design. Appreciating art goes beyond cultural and geographical lines; and its more than a summation of our culture and beliefs. Appreciating design is an international and universal feeling, felt by all despite our color, skin or race.

Be sure to check Part 2!

Rachel Arandilla

Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.

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Comments

  1. Lise says

    The beach in circle and the sun in the center picture is just awesome. Seeing this kind of a pictures I’m just keep asking my self why I didn’t think about it before? Really nice collection as always. Thanks 1stwebdesigner.

  2. Clyde says

    That’s the beauty of design, amazing how each culture can be expressed by design on each country/region, in a natural way.

  3. Jamie Leighton says

    What a great, and truly inspiring post. I hadn’t really thought about the impact of nationality on website design, but it clearly plays a part. Well done!

  4. Warren says

    Wonderful collection to share with us! Please continue to watch the world and share with us. Thank You.

  5. Vinay Pateel says

    Fabulous article! One of the most interesting and inspiring collections of graphic design I’ve come across in a long time..
    Thanks of lot for compiling it!

  6. Bunnygotblog says

    Obviously,we all want see more. You hit on a very interesting subject here. you have so many options to go with this.

    By the way; “The latino’s piousness is evident with the use of religious themes and Roman Catholic symbols”. This is said of often in any aspect of a latino’s life. Sounding very American :D

  7. Marmulo says

    It’s been said above, but it needs to be said again, What about Africa?
    I’m from South Africa and we have some Amazing design, both print & web.
    Also eastern block, europe, north america, etc.

    I really liked the article, but i’d love to see your perspective on the rest of the world.

  8. Benjamin says

    Chinese web design is starting to improve a lot, although one of the trends preferred for commercial website is to have a lot of information and scrolling text etc, can be very difficult to work with. Big fan of a lot of Scandinavian minimalist designs.

  9. says

    Thanks ! Wonderful Collection!! Great insights and thanks for providing the links to some of the wonderful graphic design pieces and websites from the mentioned countries, some never seen before anywhere!!
    The designs from China/Japan and Middle East are awesomely creative but why do they rely so heavily on flash? This is a topic to think about since HTML5 and CSS3 are all over the web now as well as jquery and many other that fill the space for flash!!

    The world is going abuzz with minimal design!!

    And also, I love the concluding paragraph. That’s well said!!

  10. siesee says

    This posted in perfect time, as I was just researching variations on design between Eastern and Western cultures. I missed the portion on India too, and would really like to see your post on that country.

  11. kaltsovrako says

    The brazilian player is an artwork of a greek designer call Harris Tsevis. Not from a Latin American.