Matthew Pettit – Picture Chinese

Picture of Matthew Pettit

Hi my name is Matthew Pettit. I am a senior at BYU-Idaho, and am a communications major with an emphasis in digital and social media marketing and a minor in Asian languages. For my senior project, I made a resource for people looking to learn Mandarin in a way that is simple and easy. The brand I created to do this is called Picture Chinese. My idea was to create a series of drawings that explained the meaning of characters visually, in a way that is accurate, easy to remember, and easy to understand. I created a brand that could share these drawings, and maintained its social media throughout the semester.

Every post was produced using my three step process. First, I looked at the list of characters used in the internationally standardized Chinese language proficiency test, which is called HSK as an acronym for the Chinese name for the test. I carefully studied the visual appearance of characters from the more basic proficiency levels of HSK, and found as many characters as I could think of a way to draw simply in a memorable way to help people learn them. I would then sketch potential looks for each of them until I was happy with how they looked, and move into adobe illustrator and translate the sketches into final drawings for my posts.

Next, I would research anything I could find out about the history of where these characters came from and any additional information I could find to include in the written portion of my posts. This included researching words and usages, pronunciation, and the etymological evolution of characters. Since many of the characters used in modern Chinese are originally derived from pictures, this information is extremely useful to help with ideas, but the ability to add historical context to my explanations adds extra value to my posts, and helps to set me apart from other Chinese learning resources.

Finally, I would share them on the Picture Chinese Instagram page I made. I would include as much of the research I could in the text of the post, and then I would optimize each post by researching and including hashtags that were tailored to them individually.

Throughout the duration of this project, I made sure to engage with my audience. This included responding to comments and direct messages I received through the channel. I also took opportunities to promote Picture Chinese through any other channels or pages I had access to. I made over 20 drawings to post and was able to grow an audience of over 30 new subscribers on my new page that I started from scratch. 

Moving forward with this project, I hope to continue and expand it well into the future. I think this project really is helpful for me, and makes me marketable as a communication professional, to have a social media brand that I manage and maintain by myself.

One of the things that’s really great about social media is that there’s always something new to reach for. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small or a large brand there’s always something new to reach for. And for me it’s really exciting to look at everything I’ve done and think what can come next. There’s a world of possibilities and the more I try, then the more I can really see what I can do. I think that by building and maintaining this brand, a lot of doors will be opened for me, and I think that the subject matter is really helpful for me, because I hope someday to be able to use my language abilities in a professional capacity as well.

 Project Overview

Picture Chinese