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Stamping out Chinglish

posted by Mary Kay Hickox on Thu, Jun 28, 2012
in Our shows

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This week, Cheshire (Berkeley Rep’s art director) and I put up the exterior sign for the first show of our 2012–13 season, David Henry Hwang’s comedy Chinglish. This was a wonderful play to read, and I was very excited to be able to create artwork for this production. Inspired by Chinese woodblock seals, I created a few rough variations on the idea (shown below), and settled with the two stamps in the final version. I separated the flags into two to create flexibility when the artwork has to be used in small formats (such as the ads in the weekly newspapers or web ads) or in larger formats. 


To create the stamps, I made two basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator — the U.S. flag with the Chinese stars, and the Chinese flag with the U.S. stars. At this point they were looking very Saul Bass, and we needed to make it look more stamplike. There are a lot of ways to grunge up an image digitally, but you can always tell when something has been treated with a computer. The best tools for achieving this look? Your hands, printer paper, and an X-acto knife. I printed out a large version of each of the flags, and crumpled them. Then I flattened them out, and then crumbled them again. When the ink on the paper began to loosen up, I began scratching off the toner at certain spots with the knife. This process took a few iterations just to perfect the look.


The crumpled mess of a paper then goes into the scanner and Photoshop. I moved around the scratches and blobs, as it began to look like torn holes in the artwork. The final stop for the flags in the Adobe Creative Suite is with InDesign, where I laid out the images with the show title, information, and other logos onto the poster. Cheshire thought of the tagline. Unless you can read it, I won’t explain what it says — you’ll just have to come by Berkeley Rep in August to find out for yourself! 



Looks great! What an interesting process.

rdw | Thu, Jun 28, 2012

Very interesting! excellent art work!

Van | Thu, Jun 28, 2012

Wonderful, imaginative artwork and great fun to see the process

kathryn murdock | Mon, Oct 1, 2012

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