Eight Immortals

Posted by: on May 27, 2011

Packaging has always been interesting for me, and with a project about systems, what’s better than creating a system of packaging for a set of items? Also, with my latest work during the semester heavily influenced by Japan because of my wintersession Japan class, I decided to something related to my own culture.

The Eight Immortals are characters from Chinese Mythology during the time when Daoism was popular. They represented the whole of society and their tales showed that no matter who you are, you could attain immortality, whether you were old or young, female or male, rich or poor. Each character had their own item that symbolized them and gave them supernatural powers from reviving the dead to dispelling evil spirits. The eight items are a flute, gourd, sword, fan, lotus, flower basket, drum and castanets.

Originally, tea was the chosen product for the Eight immortals because of the health aspect, however after careful research, alcohol was more suitable, as it had appeared in most of the tales and the play of word, immortality. Because this product is Chinese liquor import made for the American audience, the design emphasized the exotic Chinese style, but still fused both the old and modern.

The illustrations were to imitate the long tradition of Chinese cut paper and the watercolor illustration of the item on each bottle was to imitate the Chinese style of painting. To allow the viewer to see which of the Eight Immortals on the front corresponded to the item, they were always centered and had their item highlighted in color. Although these characters are from mythology, the text was to give a modern feel and look to give a fresh appeal to the liquor for the American market. English names named after what they represented were also used to help Americans remember and differentiate the bottles as well as hint to the tales of each character.

The system made the work cohesive but still showed enough differences to help differentiate the bottles. Throughout the semester, I have gradually changed my views on systems, as I thought they were only set rules that did not allow much. However, I realized, especially with the final project, that there are many aspects where a system can generate something new and interesting. Without careful analysis of the bottles, I wouldn’t have known that there are possibilities of different systems that can be made besides the usual label on bottles. I was able to discover “edges” of the bottle and the use of dimensions and water distortion.


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