Oct 27

We’d like to introduce JetWit (nickname: A.J.) , the new mascot for JetWit.com, created by Zi Mei (Saitama-ken, 2002-05)!

Below the jump, Zi Mei explains the origin of the nickname “A.J.” and shares an early sketch:

A.J. is a pun on several words and ideas and I’ll briefly explain the inspiration behind him. Steve had asked me to design a mascot for Jetwit several weeks ago, but nothing really good came to me. Then, I happened to attend a friend’s furniture store grand opening attended by several Japanese ex-pats. I made an accidental oyaji gag and drew something on a napkin.  Several days later inspiration came to me while in the shower. I remembered my napkin and thought up “A.J.” as the perfect name for my new character. I sat down to sketch out his look and nailed it on the third try, then popped open Illustrator to create the finished version.

The gag in his name:
“A” is pronounced “ei” in Japanese, which can be written as 英 (meaning “English”). The J part of the name represents Japan, so A.J. could be an abbreviation for “America-Japan” (to represent the cross-cultural focus of the website), or “Eigo-Japanese”. A.J. can also be “Alumni of JET”. The reason A.J. is an elephant and not any another animal, e.g., a squirrel, a walrus, or something more indigenously Japanese, is also a pun using  the sounds “A” and “zou”. Elephant A (“A象”) and picture/image (映像).

The glasses and pencil were Steven’s idea, because he wanted to make the mascot look smart and translator-y. (Editor’s note:  Good job on that, Zi.)  Elephants are, not coincidentally, known for their memory and intelligence, and revered in many cultures around the world as a symbol of wisdom. Aristotle is supposed to have called the elephant “the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind.”

Here is an initial sketch of A.J.

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