Chineasy: The new way to read Chinese

Graphic Design, Inspiration

Developed by ShaoLan Hsueh and illustrated by Noma Bar, Chineasy is a visual-based learning system that teaches Chinease in a non-painful way and even more, quite creatively!

ShaoLan created a system of building blocks, compounds and phrases where the building blocks are basic characters and the compounds their derivates while phrases are formed by putting them together, side by side. Each building block is represented by a simple illustration that makes it easy to remember and the same illustration is adjusted in a way that makes sense to bring to life a compound. Below you can find some examples of the concept and also of the brilliant graphics that enhance the learning of one of the most difficult languages in the world.

I have learned about Chineasy last year at Design Museum in London where it was part of a 6-month exhibition following the nomination received for the Best Design of the Year.

It all started one year earlier in February when ShaoLan Hsueh gave a 6-minute TED talk to prove that even though the Chinese language seems to be to an outsider “as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China”, you can still “learn to read Chinese with ease”!

She then launched on July 23rd a project on Kickstarter that got funded in 10 days for £75.000, reaching 200% of the target in day 16 and raising in the end £197,630 from the contributions of 5,475 people that believed in this great idea. That seems like a successful campaign! 🙂

The Chineasy products consist of the Chineasy Book (physical and ebook), 60 Flashcards and 100 Postcards that can be bought from various online locations including Amazon. A second book will be released in Chinese New Year 2016 and I am sure that ShaoLan will come with many other surprises in the future given the fans that Chineasy gained during the time.

Have a look on the Chineasy Facebook page as it is daily updated with quizzes and new phrases, building a strong community of learners. You’ll be welcomed if you’d like to give it a try and you might catch up in no time!

As learning and visual communication are my main interests at the moment, I could not be anything but deeply fond of this project that makes so obvious the role of visual communication in the learning process.

What is your opinion: do you find this a strong example of innovative design?

Online classes and tutorials for creatives


Here you can find my favourite platforms for learning! Some are free, others charge a membership fee. There are also mobile and/or tablet apps developed for most of them if you’d like to take your learning dose on-the-go.



This tends to be my favourite due to the format, you can watch classes live and interact with the speaker on chat with the help of the CreativeLive staff. There are five categories: art & design, photo & video, music & audio, craft & maker, money & life. The sessions can be watched for free while on air or bought afterwards to watch at your convenience. There is also a very nice calendar that gets updated with the classes available during a month for each of the categories. This allows you to schedule ahead and register to all that is of interest to you.


Arguably the second best, be aware it is a strong competition! Skillshare is full of classes for creatives in a wide range of areas: from culinary arts to crafts, photography, design, fashion, film, writing, music and even entrepreneurship. The class is a series of videos that sum up usually to around 1 to 2 hours but can go to several hours as well. What is really engaging on Skillshare is their approach of learning by doing as each class ends with a project that should make use of the acquired skills and techniques.

They are also preaching that everyone can teach so if you feel up to, you can give it a try and share your skills with the world. You don’t need to have any kind of teaching experience, only a big passion for the chosen topic.


Not focused on Arts & Design but there is a section you can check out and you’ll come across some very well documented courses. The instructors are from universities around the world and the courses are a long-term engagement spreading on a few months usually. Each week you have a series of short videos to watch and an assignment to complete. They use a peer assessment model, therefore you’ll be graded by your colleagues around the world. End of the course, there is also an exam to take and you have the option to earn verified certificates if this is one of the things you’re looking after.



Less coverage on the creative domains, most of the courses are in areas like math, computer science and physics but art and design are also amongst the subjects. Like Coursera, they have nice partnerships with top universities around the globe, Harvard is one of them!


Same as the last two, this is worth mentioning especially because of the powerful institutions where the teachers come from. And there is a wide range of courses you can take in several languages: English, German, Spanish and Russian.


Based on your topic of choice, you can subscribe to playlists that point to resources over the web, be it an article, documentary or book.


Hack Design

This is a 1-year commitment to learning design. If you sign in, you’ll get one email a week with the most relevant blogs, books, videos and tutorials organised in topics like graphic design principles, typography, UI / UX, product design and a few more. The lessons are curated by designers specialised in these domains to make the best of the experience!


The first place to go to for the best tutorials if you’re up to learn the Adobe suite, on different skill levels, from the very beginner to advanced.


As an alternative to Lynda, with a huge library of free articles embedding videos to help you learn.

Most of what I know now in the graphic design field I owe to these incredible, wonderful, don’t know what I would do without them, learning platforms. Hope you’ll find a few minutes to check them out as I’m sure everyone can find something valuable in here! And please share if you also have some great go-to learning sources, as I’m sure you all do! 🙂

Why I’m here


I have come to realise over the last few years that I crave for more creativity in my life. I started to explore options and got stuck on graphic design. I find myself drawn especially to whimsical illustrations, geometric patterns and witty book covers.

Why the blog

What I want with this blog is to:

  • make a commitment to myself about learning new things every day
  • share my findings with others that have similar interests
  • get feedback on my playground in graphic design
  • connect with people that value creativity