Masks with a butterfly design that incorporates a shape representing Taiwan have been produced in the US, much to the surprise of their Taiwanese designer.
Kao I-min (高一民), 44, a freelance artist and designer who graduated from National Cheng Kung University’s Department of Architecture, was commissioned to design stickers with markings identifying Taiwan as the country of origin for use on boxes used to ship disposable gloves to the US.
Kao said that he did not expect the design would also be used on masks.
Photo courtesy of Kao I-min
Two of his colleagues from school — Chen Yu-wen (陳郁雯), an urban planning engineer in Hong Kong, and Ou Mei-lan (歐美瀾), a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay area — were tasked with using the design on other products, Kao said, adding that Ou then sought an international platform to produce and sell the masks.
The masks feature a butterfly that has a wing in the shape of Taiwan proper, “symbolizing that Taiwan is the butterfly kingdom,” Kao said.
The words “Taiwan can help” are printed beside the butterfly.
Before President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was sworn in for her second term on May 20, Kao sent samples of the mask to the president and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), urging the government to lift a ban on mask exports, he said.
The government lifted the export ban on June 1 and Kao received a letter signed by Tsai encouraging him to continue exploring the beauty of Taiwan, and to use his art to promote the nation and teach more people about its culture.
Taiwanese manufacturers have been collaborating with Kao to produce the masks, which went on sale on an online platform in the US this month.
Kao said that he is not looking for an economic gain from the sale of the masks, but to promote Taiwan internationally.
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