From an email:
“One of my students asked about the Zentangle logo. Where does it come from? What does the logo mean?
“I heard from one of my CZT [Certified Zentangle Teacher] friends that it was inspired by a Chinese character "口" which means "mouth", but it means also "enter". And Rick and Maria wanted to show "the enter of Zentangle" with the logo...? Sounds really beautiful but I'm not sure if this is correct or not.
"I want to tell my students the correct information and would greatly appreciated it if you could help me with this question."
Thank you so much for asking because the answer makes for a great story.
Throughout our Zentangle experience, synchronicity and serendipity have guided and informed our choices. The story behind our logo is an excellent example.
When we began Zentangle, one of our nephews worked for a web design company and we asked them for help building our website. They asked us what we had in mind for a logo. We described our fondness for the Asian chop with its bold, traditional, red color. The “chop” is a carved stamp that serves as a signature or seal in many East Asian cultures. You will often see it on artwork and documents.
Here is an example of a personal name seal:
Our nephew’s designers offered several suggestions. We chose the empty square drawn in brush strokes. The traditional square format matched our original square tiles. We liked the idea of the empty square because it suggested that it is up to the individual artist to define what to put on the tile.
Years later, in familiar Zentangle synchronicity, we discovered that our logo resembles the Japanese character 口 which means “mouth” (as in the mouth of a cave), or “opening,” or “gateway.” We later learned that there is the same character with the same meaning in Mandarin.
Our logo is empty because the value of an opening is the emptiness it offers. Our logo’s emptiness offers no suggestion of what you should discover or imagine; it does not suggest what you should create. Our logo is an invitation to enter within to connect with your own imagination and allow it to flow forth in the form of your own unique creative expression.
Thus the creative man knows himself to be a “mouth,” through which passes what has arisen in his innermost earthen night. — Erich Neumann
If someone had told us sixteen years ago about the life changing benefits that would accompany a Zentangle practice, we would not have believed them. But after years of feedback and experience, there is something going on which is worthwhile to notice.
The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is to unlock and release again the flow of life into the body of the world. — Joseph Campbell
This flow does not need force. In fact, force does not help. You only need to allow that portal, that 口 to open. Then imagination and creativity flow automatically like water from an artesian well. An artesian well is an underground body of water that will flow out under its own pressure if it has an opening. Many springs are natural artesian wells.
Just as with an artesian well, with the flow of one’s own creativity:
- once accessed, flows of its own accord
- what was blocked, is released
- its flow washes away obstructions
- you are inspired to trust in your self
Knowledge knows him who pours forth as a spring. — A.M. Rilke
To feel creativity flow from within and watch it manifest through the pen in your hand and onto physical paper is a kind of miracle. For many people, this is the first time since childhood they have made marks that aren't pre-planned, programmed or judged. This is a first step as you learn to trust the validity of your own imagination and your own creative expression.
The creative and the spiritual are of the same space and the same energy when they derive from a person’s authentic experience. Together they provide a basis for deep fulfillment. — Jon Rappoport
A Zentangle practice offers an opportunity to change the story you tell yourself about yourself. That can be enough to release a logjam of unhelpful routines and patterns. We hear so many stories of health benefits that result from a Zentangle practice. I think it is related to the free flow from within of imagination and creativity . . . all through the opening of heART that our logo suggests.
Your questions can be good inspirations for future blog posts. If you have a question, please ask it in the comments below.