Chinese-like Graffiti in Atlanta

My original hometown may be Tampa, Florida, but my family relocated from there to Atlanta, Georgia in 2020. So this past July, I was finally able to take my whole China-based family to visit this new “home base” in the US. It was great to be back with family for almost a whole month after being unable to visit due to COVID for about 4 years.

I won’t say too much about the visit, other than that it was really nice. I’ve been taking a break from blogging this year, and we all had a great time.

Chinese did randomly intrude on our vacation, though, such as in this graffiti I spotted on the Atlanta Beltway.

Atlanta Beltway Chinese Characters

Here’s a closeup of the part on the right:

Atlanta Beltway Chinese Characters (Closeup)

Is this real Chinese? I’d have to say no. It does look like a “graffiti style font” of real characters in some ways, and I can recognize parts of real characters, but then they also have weird extra strokes that don’t work. There are a few “near misses,” but every single one looks off in some way.

Still, it’s fun to see this. You can tell that someone took the effort to really observe real Chinese characters and try to do their own artistic take on them.

And I do love a little characterplay!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Wow! Those characters look so authentic to my ignorant eye! Do you ever see the reverse? Words written with letters that are slightly off? I guess that the same concept simply wouldn’t apply for the alphabet. The closest analogy might be a misspelling, maybe? Anyway. Fun post!

  2. Dale Gonzalez Says: August 17, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    It’s wonderful that you got to spend time in Atlanta. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip. The graffiti you’re looking at was likely painted by this local artist Brandon Sadler. Brandon lived in Korea for a year and has built a style around Asian influence. He created his own alphabet that has an Chinese feel but is an adaptation of english characters – not too unlike the work of Xu Bing

    In any event, I’ve been following you since Chinese Pod and still listen to your old podcasts every week. Glad you made the trip and welcome back any time.

  3. Well, probably meaningless but keep in mind there are other scripts such as Khitan and Chữ Nôm which look essentially like Chinese characters but include many characters not found in Chinese.

  4. Randy Alexander Says: August 18, 2023 at 11:47 am

    It looks like it’s from some manga, but I can’t quite make out the title (it won’t let me zoom on my phone). A_____ and the gateway of C_______? Maybe looking that up might give a clue?

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