When I first arrived in Beijing, I wanted to explore the city and the easiest way is to use the subway. People like me, possibly like you (otherwise, I am not sure why are you reading this?), like us – graphic designers are geeks. We have developed a sixth sense for noticing things that nobody else gives a shit about, for example a subway sign.

Are you with me? Yeah, we keep starring at things like subway sign, infographics, navigation system, posters, logos of everything, advertising, and basically all the graphic design. In this post, I want to share with you a few photos of the graphics I was starring at inside of the Beijing’s subway.



My FAVOURITE subway sign in Beijing was the ‘Please take care oldster and child’. In terms of the design I don’t have much I can take amiss for. I think that combination of horizontal Latin alphabet writting and vertical Chinese writting (you know, in Chinese you can both write vertically and horizontally) is great in terms of efficiency.

“Please take care oldster and child”

But what first must slap you in the face, we all know what it is – no point me commenting on that, is FAB, right? What really gets me, is the idea of being in one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, where trillions of people, AND foreign people pass by this subway sign.

And even though having this in mind, there wasn’t a decent infographic designer, who would take care of this hilarious ‘oldster and child’ sign. Any infographic designer looking for a job here? Why not to contact the Beijing MTR here, BJMTR claims in their MISSION the following:  ‘Encourage employees to learn and be more creative …’  Wouldn’t it work better like this: …be less creative BUT learn more?

Other subway sign – Ecology Poster

On the top of an ‘oldsterly’ interesting and some rather common subway signs, infographics and navigation system, which is not that different from those you can see in other subway / underground / metro around the world, I noticed an ecology poster.

Hang on, what??

Ecology poster in Beijing? In Beijing in China, where is a high pollution all year long a standart?

Yep, that’s right!

I actually saw three posters! They are promoting green energy and cutting down the carbon emissions. I must say that I was surprised if not shocked!

Are you too? OR is it just ME who is being ignorant here? Either way because of my possible ignorance or because of what media tells us about China (of course, there is the Paris agreement which China signed but it needs to be ratified thought), this kind of an eco poster is the last thing I would expect to see in this country. However, I was happy and thrilled to see it! When I work on graphic design projects, I am always trying to work on those briefs with eco / sustainable idea.

Subway Sign: Beijing Subway


Politics in Poster

The other thing I want to point out is the hint of communism.

What? Well, look at the poster with hands.

Get it? No, maybe? Ok, so what do I mean?

The ‘many hands’ element. I suppose it means that everybody has to work together to cut down carbon emissions. But I also think, that it refers to one of the values of Chinese collectivism and communism and the approach of ‘WE’ not ‘ME’, which is typical in our western cultures.

In my words, I would literally translate it to something like this: ‘WE have to work together to be able to cut down the carbon emissions.’ Since I am in China, I have started noticing those hints of propaganda on different levels and this is just one of them –  would you be interested to see some graphic design on that? Let me know in comments below.

Subway Sign Elsewhere in China

The last three signs are, to be fair, from subway in Kunming, which is another Chinese city. I must have included it as I saw another great subway sign – ‘RIDING FORWARD’ , lol! Awesome, right? And what do you think about the spiky symbol above the EXIT? Have you seen anything like this before? What does it mean? Because I have no idea!

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to leave comments or share on your social, which would be btw much appreciated and would make you even more awesome! You are already awesome because you got down here!

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