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Chop, Chop!

Chop, Chop!

Kirsten asks, “So many Chops! I feel like mine changes too much. Have you done a class or blog on developing our Chop? I would love to spend some time with Zentangle Chops.”

Thanks, Kirsten. Great question.

First, let’s explain the chop. From Wikipedia: “. . . in an East and Southeast Asian context, [a chop] is a general name for printing stamps and impressions thereof which are used in lieu of signatures in personal documents, office paperwork, contracts, art, or any item requiring acknowledgement or authorship.”

As part of step seven of the eight-step Zentangle Method, you put your chop on the front of your tile to identify yourself as the creator and to take ownership of your creation. Some create chops with their initials. Some create unique icons or symbols. In the non-representational spirit of tangling, you only put your chop on the front of your tile. The back is for your name, date and other info like the place or a special event.

Now, for your question.

I love that your chop changes a lot. What you might think of as uncertainty, you can also interpret as searching and testing. For example, when you try on shoes to find the perfect pair, you do not think that you should not have tried on the ones you didn’t buy. Nor do you think that this is the last and only pair of shoes you will wear.

If you are like most people, you already are known by different names. Using Maria as an example – with our grandchildren, I call her Mèmè; with our children, Mum; with our friends, Maria; and when we are alone, Babe.

I suggest that you see yourself as your own work of art – one that proceeds in a Zentangle way, one stroke at a time. According to many traditional cultures, you transform your name as you transform yourself. Certainly, it makes sense to change your chop.

Your "given" name may be static, but you are not static. A chop is a great icon to change as you change. It makes sense that you will change it more often in the beginning as you begin to catch up with all the changes you’ve been through so far. 

Approach your changing chop as yet another part of a process for you to enjoy. Again, in keeping with the shoe analogy, you can enjoy trying on different shoes even if you don’t buy any.

Here is a sampling of how Maria’s my chops have changed through the years


To see how we incorporate our chops into our tangles, search through our tiles on the Zentangle Mosaic app (No charge to search images on the app)

I asked Maria her thoughts on this and she replied, 

“In creating your chop, you can explore different combinations of the initials in your name. Use one, two or three or more if you have them. Or, none at all. Your chop can be a symbol or icon that you create. 

Start by playing around with two initials. Stack them, reverse them, rotate them and “glue” them together in different ways. You can encase them:

“It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but you.”

"Use scripts if that appeals to you."

"Look up famous logos and monograms and get inspired by ones that 'speak' to you. I don't mean to copy them; but maybe one little thing about it stands out, even something as simple as a line under a letter."

"Play like it is your job! But remember you will be using it often so "KISS" (Keep It Simple Sweety)."

As an example, Maria combined “A” with each letter of the alphabet:

Maria created artwork for our upcoming online Zentangle CZT Seminar, November 8-10, 2020. Here's a partial peek:

Monet's words apply as much to ourselves as to any thing or narrative we might encounter. And in the context of this blog, "Zentangle: see for yourself!" could just as easily read, "Zentangle: See yourself!"

Thank you again for asking that question. We look forward to seeing the next version of your chop.


With best regards,




Norman Rockwell changed his signature every time he signed a painting!


Rick Roberts


  • Thanks for this explanation of “chop” — I was learning from a CZT and she used that word – I could see what she meant but this explanation is great. Thanks again.

    Sandra Thimgan on

  • i whont to try out the chop it is intresting and learn about how to write my name in different languages

    romeo rich on

  • I am teaching a class of Zentangle to seniors at our Assisted Living home. Most are over 85 as am I. We have only 4 or 5 that seem interested enough to keep coming back. I have made many bookmarks using a flower and tangles. I always print an inspiring quote on the back and cover them with clear Contac. My paper choice is card stock. I am trying to come up with projects …fairly easy…many folks have arthritic fingers. I have the Zentangle Book 1, Expanded. And of course, many of my own tangles. I did one of my hand that I’m going to try with my group. We use color too as I have used color since my first bookmarks were all black and white. I love color …..I guess that goes against Zentangle principles ?? But the results are beautiful. Any ideas you may have will be much appreciated.

    Mary Lou Dean on

  • why did he create those symbols.

    Michael De paula on

  • I belong to an art club here in Detroit. It is a place for

    artist to showcase their work and for collectors to purchase pieces by both new and established artist. As a member I have been told that each artistic work has to be signed on the front. I am a new artist working with Zentangle and I will have to introduce the concept of a chop when I start to display my work. Since this is standard practice for Zentangle I am sure I can get away with it.

    Judith Thompson on

  • Thank you for this explanation. I did not know what “chop” was although I was guessing at its meaning. Just started looking for something different. Such encouragement for me to continue. Hoping to join you in November, just looking for God’s inspiration.
    Thank you for Zentangle!! It gives JOY to my life.

    Emily Watroba on

  • Thank’s for this blog. I’ve been trying to find a chop for me without success. Even though I’ve tried several times to make one but I end up with just how I write my initials. My initials AW are very common and I don’t want anything similar to others. After reading this blog I started again to try to o find one.

    The next day I started up with a morning tangle. And suddenly my chop appeared to me! I actually liked it and started to use it!
    Thank’s for the inspiration! 🤗

    Annika WIener on

  • Monet’s quote says it all. I too have recently renewed my chop and as always learned so much from your blog. Looking forward with so much anticipation to November. :-)

    Anna Maxheimer on

  • Such a lovely way of explaining Chop Chop! Yes, ‘We Must Forget The Name of the thing we’re looking at’ . What profound words! In my quest for a chop I’ve explored a lot!

    - Vandana (13 September 2020)

    Vandana Shenoy on

  • Thank you for the Chop inspiration! I have taken the opportunity to consider them differently. I searched monograms and ranch brands to find elements that speak to me.

    Looking forward to November!

    KIrsten on

  • Thank you for this inspiring blog. One of the things I most appreciate about The Zentangle Method is that “it doesn’t look like A Thing.” I had not heard that quote from Monet before but it is so appropriate. He was, after all, masterful at not painting A Thing.

    Linda Dochter on

  • great insight! I love the idea of playing around with this. So far mine is really just my initials. I love the sneak peek with the Monet quote, and I can hardly wait for November!

    Kelli on

  • Great post! Love all the examples and the artwork with the Monet quote.

    ~JMP on

  • I enjoyed your information about chops and Maria’s beautiful drawings and chops. I have pretty much used the same chop since I became a CZT back in 2013. I really like it but I might just try something different some time and maybe I will like that too. Thanks for the great blog as usual!

    Barbara Burgess, CZT 12 on

  • thx. So helpful ; )

    carol parry on

  • Great blog again :-D

    ArjadLH on

  • Wonderful explanation of chops and the changing style they will sometimes go through. My school students have always loved coming up with their chop. We spend some time talking about them and playing with letters and styles when I first introduce them to Zentangle. It has become a mini lesson of sorts on typography. Love the sneak peak of the piece for the upcoming seminar and hope that we all will be able to see the whole piece!

    Kate Ahrens on

  • This is something I will try. I am a calligraphist with the Philadelphia Calligraphy Society. I’ll share.

    Elaine on

  • I am relieved to know that chop-changing is ‘normal.’ I am teaching a “Tea N Tangles” class on Thursdays and I will remind my students of this opportunity to visit the blog and gain some understanding of the chop and the value of exploring new identities.

    Annie Sargent, CZT (33) on

  • Very interesting point! Thanks Rick 💚

    Love you explained us the definition for “chop”. It will be easy for me to explain it to my students!
    I’ll give it a thought to develope a new chop for me… I only have 3 😄😄

    MAria TOvar CZT on

  • I agree with everyone today – a great post with wonderfully informative and inspiring information! Thanks, Rick!

    Shawna Oertley on

  • Very helpful! I never understood what.word Rick was actually using when he spoke of “chop.” Seeing the definition & the illustrations show that mine is just fine. Thank you!

    Amy Gill on

  • Thanks for this blog, again with a lot of ideas:-)and inspiration. Can’t wait to play with chops and my initials.

    stella Peters-Hessels on

  • Love this Blog! I love the idea of the chop changing because it has just happened as I have tangled. Maria, the examples you gave at the end are really helpful! Already have a new chop! Thank you!

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • - another timely insight…oh the days i’ve spent trying to figure out how to incorporate my 3 initials into a chop…to think I can “make it simple” …and open my self to possibilities…ah ZEN TANGLE!

    Thank you!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

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