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Hanzi is a documentary exploring international design, visual culture and identity through the lens of modern Chinese typography.
Hanzi is a documentary exploring international design, visual culture and identity through the lens of modern Chinese typography.
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469 backers pledged $18,783 to help bring this project to life.

Stories of Chinese names


Dear Backers, 

It's been a few days since our last update and wow! We are 74% funded! Thank you guys so much for your support! We're almost there, so help us spread the word among friends and families and we'll keep you updated on our progress!

One of the themes we talked about in Hanzi is cultural and personal identity. And one of the biggest factors in "finding and having an identity" comes from your name.  

Most of us grow up with a name chosen by our parents. Just like how Asian kids would have English names, many Westerners that came to Asia to study are given Chinese names. Asian cultures, in general, takes great pride and thought process into picking names. Each combination of characters not only need to sound nice, it usually has meanings of virtue or aspirations. 

Ash Henson is the Co-founder of Outlier Linguistics, a new dictionary of Chinese characters based on the latest research on the Chinese writing system. As an American from Texas, he had to learn Chinese as an adult, which inspired him to create his app. In the movie, he shared with us about how and why he learned Chinese and the relationship between language and personal identity.  

We asked him how he chose his Chinese name 李艾希:
When Ash was an undergrad, his roommate's girlfriend was Taiwanese. Ash's full English name is Ashley which came from the movie Gone with the Wind. His roommate's girlfriend looked up the Chinese book version of the book - which was 艾希禮. Since 禮 sounds the same as 李 - a very common last name in Asia, Ash adapted his name into 李艾希 to avoid confusion from local Taiwanese.  What's your Chinese name story? 

We also want to bring your attention to one of a very special reward - A unique type stamp set

The type is from Ri Xing Type Foundry - the last traditional Chinese letterpress type foundry in the world. You can pick one from the four options: 
     (A) Type Stamp "字": Zi - which means “Word, Type, or Font”
     (B) Type Stamp "漢字電影": Han Zi Dian Yin - which means “Hanzi The Movie”
     (C) Customize your name in Chinese: Get a stamp of your Chinese name! If you don’t have a Chinese name, you can check out this website or message us and we’ll pick one for you.
     (D) Other custom characters: If you have other specific Chinese characters in mind that you want to make into type stamp, let us know! You can pick up to four words. 

Ash's stamp set
Ash's stamp set

Pictured here is Ash's custom made type stamp set :)

You can get yours today too! 

Best regards,
Hanzi Team

Tasha Turner, Andrew Dale, and 1 more person like this update.


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