Artists at Play is proud to unveil a new logo as we enter our ninth season in 2020.

We’ve had the good fortune of working with designer Chris Komuro since our start in 2011. When it came time to rebrand, he shared this: “For this logo I wanted to do a modern take on the Asian ‘chop stamp’…without being too literal. I used a contemporary sans serif typeface and a bright, vibrant color palette.”

Chop stamps have been around for centuries throughout Asia, originating in China and spreading early on to places like Korea and Japan. In their most common form, they are small personal seals carved from wood, ivory, or jade. They have been used by emperors and commoners alike, and can be used as a marker of one’s given name, chosen names, or organization.

In East Asia, personal seals are used to stamp documents in lieu of or in combination with a signature. From the stamped image to the seal itself, they can be as elaborate or as simple as you can imagine. Chinese emperors would use them as seals of approval on works of art and calligraphy. The Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong was known to be quite zealous about his art appreciation, covering the work itself with red self-asserting squares. Today in Japan, you can buy seals with common names ready-made for purchase, like novelty license plates at a souvenir shop, if novelty license plates were legally binding.

While the role and legal authority of the chop stamp is in flux around Asia, artists like Takuma Yamazaki have introduced its next iteration: QR codes. It’s a reminder that although Asian culture is often positioned in the past by the West, even by Asian-Americans ourselves (as the land we left behind, etc.), it is living, breathing, and ever-evolving.

Because even though chop stamps have become iconic and evocative of cultures across Asia, they are also just a functional part of everyday life. And they change as our lives change. The stories we tell at Artists at Play try to bridge the same line: tackling the enormous burden of representation while sharing the minutiae that make up our individual experiences.

A seal is, after all, a representation of self. The beauty of our new logo is that we can play around with looks while remaining undeniably Artists at Play.

We hope you give it your seal of approval.

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