Western Influence on Chinese Character Design

I have been researching and collecting examples of hybrid writing in Taiwan and Hong Kong for some time. I am especially interested in the influence of western calligraphic writing on Chinese characters. Examples are usually found on shop signs, posters and products popularly regarded (although not always correctly) as European: classical music, red wine, coffee, oven-baked bread etc. Often the influence consists of character strokes being extended with copperplate flourishes and dot endings. Such extravagance is quite foreign to Chinese calligraphy where economy of expression is a central principle. Occasionally this influence is  strong enough to call the characters “hybrid”. Using this as a starting point I have been playing, as an artist-researcher, with the possibility of stylistically mixing Chinese and Western calligraphy. Fig. 10 shows Chinese characters不拘一格 (bu yu yi ge) written horizontally with western dip-pens. Roughly speaking the combined styles are copperplate / regular script; gothic / seal script; scribble script / cursive script. The text is a Chinese saying meaning “don’t stick to one style”, which, if one is interested in the potential of cultural exchange in generating new calligraphic forms, seems to me good advice.


Western Chinese calligraphy


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