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Chop, Chop!

Chop, Chop!

Rick writes:
In 2007, we started BLOG Zentangle and began our enjoyable series of conversations within our Zentangle community.

In reading through these blog posts with their insightful comments, we decided to bring a few of them to your attention from time to time. It is easy, for me anyway, to sometimes think of old information as stale information. But these insights and conversations are anything BUT stale!

Today, we invite you to revisit this post from 2020...

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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


  • I have changed my chop once ! I think I will change it again after I have read this inspiring post! 🤗

    Anita Aspfors Westin on

  • Greetings from Tasmania, Australia. I’m glad that you change your chops Rick and Maria because they, in themselves are pure art. I have found that my chop has remained the same for over 50 years! To me, it is perfect and symbolic of the result at the end of final ink spot.

    Penny Lane on

  • Thanks Rick for the insight to the development of the “Chop, chop” and suggested ideas of how to develop a chop.

    Margaret Hart on

  • Thanks for a repost as had not seen it before. Loved the message. I have had different chops in my artwork starting long before I knew about Zentangle. One of my original art chops was a lop-eared rabbit that I started using in college on all my artwork. Evey one then knew who’s it was. I still use it sometimes, but have developed some others along the way way too.

    Sue Lesle CZT on

  • I intentionally change my chop each time I made it. I’ve been doing this since I was a child, and love seeing what it expresses each time I make my mark. I change my chop, change the ink colour, change the location where I place it. Life changes and I change, so it makes sense to me that my chop always changes. Thanks for the repost on this blog!

    Jenn Brayton CZT36 on

  • Loved this message on creating a chop! Without thinking about it too much I used KTMOON as a personalized license plate beginning in 1984. Lasting until 2007. When I started creating handmade greeting cards I turned that phonetic spelling of my name into a chop using a capital letter for the KT and a crescent moon with star. I like the regularity of my chop so I don’t change it. BUT what does change is the drawing or creating process for my tangles, greeting cards and other works of art.

    Katie Moon on

  • Thanks for a good reminder. I’ve been stressed about finding “my chop”. I still want to create a better one but let go of the stress to find it, and think of the one I use that it is “the chop for this time”. Thank’s for wonderful and interesting thoughts! ❤️

    Annika Wiener CZT on

  • Hi Rick and Maria. Thank you for this great reminder, I will for sure use this in my explanation to my students. There is so much more than ‘just’ a signature. The beauty of Zentangle once more. Bye bye 👋🏻

    Irene Lammerse CZT on

  • A chop question: Given that “pure” Zentangle tiles should be viewable in any orientation (i.e. there should not be a top nor bottom nor right side up), doesn’t the position of our chop suggest an orientation? I always put mine in the lower right side corner. It seems many others using the Zentangle method do the same. What’s a good way to not have our chop location suggest a “proper” orientation for viewing the tile?

    Suzanne Fluhr CZT 18 on

  • Stay true to the essence of what brought you here. You can only copy so many tangles before your true essence presents itself. Then go with that! It’s a journey. Not a yes or no proposition. Hope you are healing, Maria. AI sucks. So non-zen. And unalive!

    Anna Vermillion-Hoss on

  • I loved reading this blog again. And remarkably I was just talking about chops in my class this morning. 😊😊🤗

    Kathy McMurtry on

  • I love this blog! It inspires me to play with my initials. Thanks 😊

    Rimona Gale on

  • 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

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