The clock here, a mockup of an ad for the Xiao77 BBS site, shows every hour as three o’clock (), a pun on the phrase (“three points all showing,” i.e. full frontal nudity). The BBS in question is a repository of pornography that’s blocked on the mainland.
Other ads mine that same vein of humor, like a 1953 2-fen note bearing a plane that’s been shot through, promoting a 2-fen-a-day membership to another online photo archive.
Earlier this year, Zhang did a series of ironic ads for Sanlu, the now-bankrupt milk producer whose melamine-adultrated milk powder caused the deaths of several infants, and he’s turned his design skills to Viagra, Red Bull, and other well-known brands.
The visual puns in some designs are wryly anti-establishment. Here’s a cover mock-up for a book called Fleeing Overseas: Interviews with Chinese who have gone abroad.
The book’s title,, is a homophone for “star fruit,” which form the stars on the Chinese flag on the cover. And the author’s name, Chai Danxi (柴丹西), is made up of characters from the names of three well-known student activists.
Zhang also designs clever business cards that hide personal information in the iconography of pop culture and politics.
Here’s one for blogger Bei Feng that puns on two different readings of the character 和: “harmony,” and a winning hand in mahjong: