SHAMATE Factory Pamphlet

SHAMATE Factory Pamphlet is a project devoted to introduce and celebrate a subculture to the audience through multiple medium of visual storytelling. The project includes a zine and creative coding.

Timeline: September 2022 - December 2022

Role: Visual Designer, Coder, Researcher (Individual project)

Tools: Adobe Illustrator / HTML / CSS
Project Story

The subculture in China first emerged in 2008, named Shamate, a term reminiscent of the word ‘smart’. Its most striking feature was the unconventional hairstyles, often styled high and dyed in multiple colors. Shamate gained popularity among young working-class individuals who had migrated from rural areas to urban centers. Many of them had left school early to support themselves and worked long hours on assembly lines for minimal pay due to the education limitations in the job market. Shamate thus became a symbol of rebellion against capitalism and consumerism during China's rapid development.

My inspiration for this project stems from my parents' experiences working in factories at a young age, where they witnessed the toll of excessive hours on assembly lines. Their struggles and sense of powerlessness motivated me to use visual storytelling to advocate for marginalized voices. 

My passion for this project extends beyond exploring the Shamate subculture to narrating the anti-capitalist struggle through the perspective of a young female Shamate member.

Before dive in, listen more about Shamate’s Story

Zine DesignThe zine employed a first-person narrative to recount the story of Mengmeng, a young female Shamate who dropped out of school to work in a lightbulb factory, only to be injured in the eye by a lightbulb explosion.

The page design depicted a contrast between the ordinary (mainstream) and the "abnormal" (Shamate), reflecting the innocence and fantasy present in the minds of every Shamate member.

Subculture Zine
The banner in a Chinese factory

The Banners in Huoxingwen (火星文)

Huoxingwen, translated as "Mars Language," was the text speak used by the Shamate, combining Chinese and Japanese characters. To make this context accessible to English speakers, I created a Latin alphabet version by incorporating Russian and German alphabets into the spelling.

The banners with red backgrounds and white words were commonly used in Chinese factories for safety warnings. By using Huoxingwen on the banners, I further contextualized the Shamate and their safety issues while working on the assembly lines.

Web PosterThe web poster was coded using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, symbolizing the technological layer of information within the subculture. It highlighted the impact of technology, particularly the internet, on the intrusion of mainstream culture into Shamate. Furthermore, it addressed the discrimination faced by the working class, which ultimately led to the censorship of Shamate in 2013.
HTML / CSS / JavaScript


My passion for visual storytelling with multimedia and multi-layered information expanded through this project. It allowed me to explore the potential and limitations of layering concepts and ideologies through research and design implementation. In the future, I aim to interview multiple Shamate members and develop a new app with a strong focus on user-centric design principles.

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