Zhang Xiangyang, an SCNU alumna of the School of Fine Arts in the class of 1993, has been the first designer in the world invited to design Chinese zodiac stamps for six China Post stamp series, and she's also the designer with the most Chinese zodiac stamps issued. Living in New Zealand for 25 years, Zhang has been committed to promoting creative inheritance of fine traditional Chinese culture and integration of Chinese and Western culture, as well as contributing to cutural exchange between China and other countries. 

Zhang and SCNU's first emblem

Zhang Xiangyang studied in the affiliated institutes of SCNU from kindergarten to university. Her parents are also alumni of SCNU. Thus, she builds upon a deep relationship with SCNU. She designed SCNU's first emblem that was used from 1993 to 2003. 

In response to this relationship, Zhang Xiangyang led a team to design the campus mascots "Xiao Hua" and "Xiao Shi". The two characters in their name "华" (Hua in pinyin) and "师" (Shi in pinyin) are from SCNU's Chinese abbreviation ("华师", Huashi in pinyin). "华" and "师" are also homophones of another "花" (means flowers), and "狮" (means lion) in the Chinese language. Thus, their image contains the elements of flowers and Lingnan (refers to the lands in the south of the Nanling Mountains) lion dance culture, highlighting the Lingnan regional characteristics of SCNU.


SCNU mascots "Xiao Hua" and "Xiao Shi" designed by Zhang Xiangyang, SCNU's alumna designer.

Zhang and the "Light Up" exhibition

Zhang Xiangyang held the International Works Exhibition of Sophia Space "Light Up" at the School of Fine Arts of SCNU early this year, which is the second stop of the exhibition. The "Light Up" exhibition covers four venues across three cities in two countries (Guangzhou and Dongguan in China, and Auckland in New Zealand). The exhibits are divided into three main themes: cross-border zodiac, diverse graphic and multimedia interactive cultural and creative products. The exhibition mainly showcases zodiac culture, brand design, stick figure comics and mood diaries. 

The highlight of the exhibition is the Year of the Loong stamps. Under ultraviolet light, stamps like "Vigor of Loong and Horse" and "Loong amid Auspicious Clouds" reveal invisible calligraphic texts printed with fluorescent ink. This not only integrates further with calligraphic art elements, enhancing the stamps' aesthetic appeal, but also provides an anti-counterfeiting function, unifying aesthetics and practicality. Among the Loong stamps issued by the Central African Republic postage stamps in 2024, Zhang Xiangyang's designs include the imperial loong, the sea loong, and the red fire loong transformed from "龙" (the simplified Chinese character), the jade loong combining "龍" (traditional Chinese character) with the phoenix, the fusion of the old-style English "Dragon" with the new-style "Loong" and parent-child Loong inspired by the game "Snake". The series of designs presents Loong culture from unique angles and creative ways.

Different series of the Year of the Loong stamps.

Zhang explained that telling a story within a mini space of 3.6 centimeters requires both appearance and content. She emphasized the clever use of spatial relationships to incorporate various design elements. While most stamps are typically square, Zhang Xiangyang took a unique approach by designing a series of sheep-shaped and monkey-shaped miniature sheets, as well as creative stamps like DIY-3D stamps. Although stamp sheets are typically flat, through folding, they can transform into three-dimensional palace lanterns, bridal sedan chairs and other shapes. Among them, stamps like the DIY-3D palace lantern stamp, the DIY-3D sedan chair stamp, and the qipao-shaped stamp are all world-first designs.

The world's first DIY-3D Sedan Chair Stamp.

Zhang and her designer dream

Zhang Xiangyang loved art design when she was a child. In 1989, Zhang enrolled in the School of Fine Arts of SCNU, where she began to take design as her professional ideal. With systematic and professional education, Zhang Xiangyang started to shine in the field of design. Shortly after entering SCNU, she won the top prize in a design competition for the university emblem.

This success strengthened Zhang Xiangyang's determination to pursue the design industry. In 1998, Zhang and her husband immigrated to New Zealand, embarking on a new journey. Initially, Zhang Xiangyang had to apply for various jobs to make a living, and temporarily put aside her designer dream. 

However, Zhang Xiangyang did not forget her dream. After working for two years, she quit her job and studied graphic and web design at a design school in Auckland. After graduation, she stood out among applicants and became a graphic designer at the renowned advertising company BrandWorks in New Zealand. At this time, the design school invited her to a high-salary position, but she refused because she dreamed of being a frontline designer. She believed that only in that way could she create vibrant works, and then she worked in the frontline department of the advertising company for ten years. In 2010, after designing the tiger stamp, she gradually became known and set off on her journey of designing zodiac stamps.


Zhang Xiangyang is interviewed by CCTV International's Chinese World program in Auckland, New Zealand.


Zhang designs the New Zealand 2010 Year of the Tiger stamp.

Zhang and her promotion of Chinese zodiac culture

For many years, Zhang Xiangyang has insisted on creatively inheriting Chinese traditional culture, focusing on the field of zodiac stamps. In Zhang's view, zodiac culture is tied to the lives of both Chinese and foreigners. Although zodiac culture originates from China, zodiac stamps are issued by over a hundred countries and regions each year. This phenomenon showcases the profound impact of Chinese culture on the world, and the fondness both Chinese and Western cultures have for animals. Therefore, zodiac culture serves as an excellent medium for bridging Chinese and Western cultures.

"I've worked as the lead designer for many years at a local advertising company in New Zealand. After experiencing various projects, I have discovered that zodiac stamps are excellent mediums for realizing her goal," Zhang Xiangyang said.

Through zodiac stamps, Zhang Xiangyang has promoted cultural exchange and transmission from a unique perspective, such as transforming zodiac stamps into creative gifts to transmit friendship and exchange culture. Zhang Xiangyang expressed her hope that more alumni could support the cultural industry and wished more younger students to join in the extraordinary career of inheriting and innovating Chinese traditional culture and promoting international cultural exchanges and innovation. 


Zhang Xiangyang's 58 sets of stamp designs.

Zhang Xiangyang's creative team won consecutive bids for the 2012 (Year of the Loong) and 2013 (Year of the Snake) zodiac stamp competitions held by New Zealand Post under her leadership. In 2012, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, a delegation from the New Zealand National Party visited China and presented the limited-edition New Zealand Loong stamp to Wang Yang, the Party Secretary of Guangdong Province at that time. The stamp of the Year of Loong was elevated to a diplomatic gift for New Zealand. In 2013, during the visit of the Prime Minister of New Zealand to China, the gold foil edition of the New Zealand Year of Snake stamp, limited-edition 112, was presented to Li Keqiang, the then Premier of China's State Council.


Zhang Xiangyang presents the limited-edition New Zealand Loong stamps.


The stamp of the Year of Loong is elevated to a diplomatic gift for New Zealand.

Source from SCNU News Center

Translated by Wan Wenhui, Zeng Wenting

Proofread by Edwin Baak

Edited by Li Jianru

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