Huawei Telecom: Fortune


fortune magazine
design & illustration.

alex varanese

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of China, America has plenty of reasons to worry about the rise of the East in the 21st century, especially as our economy transforms into a massively multiplayer video game and congress is reborn as a sexy, outrageous reality show hosted by ANT from Last Comic Standing. With this in mind, Fortune asked me to illustrate an article about Huawei, a gargantuan Chinese telecom company that's probably plotting the secret destruction of the United States and is, as such, facing an obstacle or two as it attempts to carve out a chunk of the domestic market.

Someone on Fortune's end had seen my Alt/1977 series and wanted to apply my penchant for fake product design to the story, resulting in an open-ended creative brief that called for an illustration of a red cell phone with five star-shaped buttons arranged like the flag of China. Beyond that, they simply wanted the phone to appear menacing, suggesting the company's feared plans of subterfuge and treachery through the dissemination of seemingly innocuous telecom hardware.

The particulars were up to me, however. I started by adding a little more complexity to the design of the phone with a slide-out keyboard, giving me more detail to work with and amplifying the visual interest a bit. I then worked in my ever-present deconstruction shtick, peeling back the malfunctioning, glitch-laden screen to reveal appropriately red-colored circuitry and dramatically smashing the keys. Additionally, wire-like tentacles are bursting out of the newly created openings to drive home the idea of a fearsome Trojan Horse lurking just beneath the plastic surface.

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