Minjun Chen

Phone Cards 151


Phone Cards 151 explores how cross-cultural, historical, political issues are transformed through mass-produced phone cards in China’s changing society, and investigates how do phone cards blur the boundary of high art and mass culture. 

Book Design | Independent Project | 1 month

Phone Cards 151


Phone cards are composed of graphics, photographs, texts, and they are typical and unique products in Chinese telecommunication industry.

Such phone cards not only contain a variety of graphic design elements, but also indicate cultural, historical, political, and religious contents. For instance:

  • Reproduction and extension of the original artwork: a series of phone cards showing iconic western paintings or traditional Chinese paintings

  • Reflection on a specific religion: a series of phone cards published in China’s coastal regions used photographs and drawings of Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess.

  • Documentation of historical events as the government's promotional materials: In 2008, a large number of phone cards focused on sports because Beijing was hosting the Olympic Games that year.

01 Explorations

phone card.jpg

151 phone cards I collected evoked my individual reflections and memories on particular events, space, people and time.

I began to collect phone cards when I was in elementary school. I think personal stuff and collection has the power of evoking individual memory happening in a specific timing.

02 Personal Memory


In this book, I curated a reflection on cultural assimilation, alienation and consumption of diverse cultures in 21st century China.

151 phone card designs were divided into four themes: people, celebrations, paintings and outdoors. This is a photo book where most phone cards are shown at their true scale (1:1). But some of them are presented at a larger scale in this visual encyclopedia, aiming toreveal the cultural integration and political propaganda in the Chinese society. 

03 Design of Phone Cards 151