Laowai Sung, a handmade Chinese typeface

Laowai (老外) means foreigner in Chinese. But I would rather call that a kind of nickname. Literally translated, it means Mr. Outside, and that is a beautiful word!

When I first came to China in 2002, one of the first Chinese words I learnt was laowai. No wonder, with all the passers-by keeping on whispering it on the street. Once even an illegal taxi driver at Shanghai South station addressed me by the (dada) words: Laowai hello! Likely to have just arrived from the countryside, he didn’t seem to know how to deal with foreign customers.

Though I knew that laowai is actually a friendly expression, it also makes clear you will always be an outsider in a way. Nonetheless, or perhaps just because of that, I kept on learning as much Chinese characters as possible, improve my spelling, learn calligraphy... and the more you learn the less you feel confident.

After several abandoned attempts, I started to hand-draw my own Chinese typeface, 40 characters per page of a Moleskine notebook and began to call it Laowai Sung. The handmade look matches exactly the way I draw Chinese characters, respecting (or using) my own technical and aesthetical limitations.

Fun being the main driving force, I took the freedom to slightly mingle Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland design standards and make a clear localization impossible.

The font is just about to be completed. More details available soon!