The cover of 李剑鸿 (Li Jianhong)'s latest album has mixed simplified and traditional character scripts:

enter image description here

The extracted text:


It's weird. Usually on his album covers his name is written in traditional characters.

For example, here are some of his previous album covers:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Everything is in traditional.

Is there any reason a graphic designer would chose a mixture of simplified and traditional for this project?

  • Is it really simplified though? Jun 7, 2020 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


There is no Simplified Chinese in the first image.

The PRC straightened the strokes of some cursive characters and defined them as new characters. This kind of definition is nonsense; a Latin-alphabet equivalent would be to make up a new character which straightens the curvature of

Cursive F

and call it a "different character" from F.

The proper transcription of that text is



where we recognise that the writing is in Traditional Chinese semi-cursive or cursive:

enter image description here

enter image description here

The extraction you've provided in the question is not a consistent transcription, but actually just finding the closest Ming typeface character encoded in Unicode with character forms restricted to Chinese-language fonts. If we don't restrict ourselves to Chinese-language fonts, for example, your transcription of 「海」 would look like

Japanese variant of 海

which is the Japanese shape instead. Even though 「海」 highly resembles the Japanese standard, we're not claiming that the artist is using Shinjitai, right? These are just semi-cursive handwriting forms.

  • Seems like we're getting further into politics and semantics rather than anything else here. I think if someone wanted to completely avoid leading people to think that they were using simplified characters (for whatever reasons they might have) they might opt for a different cursive script, no? I added two more previous album covers up top into my question. The scripts for his name do look markedly different. Although, they are also obviously not cursive.
    – Mou某
    Jun 6, 2020 at 16:11
  • Font is a part of graphic in graphic design. The most important point is to make the characters look good with the rest of the image
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 6, 2020 at 22:11
  • 1
    @user3306356 The cursive varieties are actually quite standardised (because otherwise nobody would be able to read them, even if they were to be trained in cursive!), so unless someone wanted to go out of their way to avoid looking like Simplified Chinese, their semi-cursive will resemble some SC characters to quite a high degree. Remember that these semantic issues, leading on to a lot of confusion, are in fact created by the government's simplification scheme - show this image to someone from a few hundred years ago, and they would just call it "cursive", not "Simplified Chinese".
    – dROOOze
    Jun 6, 2020 at 22:59
  • 3
    To understand character shapes, choices, and variants, it's helpful to ignore SC unless something is glaringly from the "communist poster" era or obviously written in a Mainland Chinese Regular/Clerical/Ming typeface font. SC is just a political movement born during the last dying breaths of the Qing Dynasty, and actually has very little to do with anything Chinese in the grand timeline of history. In art, people traditionally dealt with cursive script, variant characters (many more complex than orthodox characters!), and seals, not Simplified Chinese.
    – dROOOze
    Jun 6, 2020 at 23:07

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