Emojination Invites You to the Fast Company Innovation Festival

Plus other news from the Emojination Community

This is our not-super-occasional update on things emoji and Emojination — in fact, it’s our very first! If you are getting this email, you have signed up on our Emojination Slack, messaged us through our website, or attended an Emojicon. There are almost 500 people in our Slack, plus a similar number who have reached out via on our contact form. We’re thrilled that the Emojination community is still growing strong!

As a reminder, Emojination’s motto is “emoji by the people, for the people.” As you know, we strive to build and implement more inclusive and representative emoji.  We’d like to send out a special thanks to Unicode Consortium member Adobe (and Meghan Arnold in particular) for sponsoring Emojination activities throughout the year, especially allowing us to push for more globally representative emoji. You can see our work in our Airtable.

Here are our announcements and updates.

Register for Fast Company Innovation Festival 2021

The main reason we are writing is to let you know about how emoji-lovers and Emojination members can get involved with the upcoming Fast CompanyInnovation Festival on October 5-9, 2020. Fast Company is honoring Emojination for one of our design-related projects 🥳 (still secret, and more details to come!). As a result, they are extending a free registration to the virtual Fast Company Innovation Festival to anyone in Emojination! Registration gives you access to sessions with speakers like Janelle Monáe, Robert and Susan Downey Jr., Chip and Joanna Gaines, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lena Waithe, and many more! If you'd like to attend this festival, just respond to this email or DM @jenny8lee on Slack and we will send you the registration link. 

Introducing the 2021 Emoji

Unicode finalized new emojis soon to be released in 2021. This release will include 217 new emoji sequences, of which 210 are skin tone variants. The other seven new emoji include heart on fire, face in cloud, and more. Unicode’s first look at these seven new emojis can be seen below. You can read more about upcoming emojis in Fast Company and Verge. The vast majority of these new releases are the ‘kissing’ and ‘heart’ versions of our interracial couple emoji we did with Tinder.

The Emoji Story, a Documentary

After a worldwide run in film festivals, a documentary about emoji that premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival is in the process of distribution. The film, originally named Picture Character, is being renamed The Emoji Story. It covers much of Emojination’s work, and features many people in this community. If you are interested in screening it at an institution (e.g. school or business) or theater, please let us know by emailing us. Read more about the documentary in The Verge, Hollywood Reporter, and The New Republic.

Emoji Unicode Videos

Want more details about Unicode and the emoji-making process? Emojination has two videos about emoji directed by Theo Schear, proud co-author of the ‘PLACARD ’ 🪧 emoji. The first is a general introductory video for the Consortium. The second is about Unicode’s emoji subcommittee

Kneeling Emoji SNAFU

Around the time Colin Kapernick began to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality, designer Ji Lee worked with us to submit a kneeling emoji with a person on one knee. Now, all platforms except for Google’s Android have the emoji person on two knees, which obscures the emoji’s true intention. We are still nudging the vendors to change their image to the original emoji proposed. Raise the issue on social media if you care. Read about this confusion in Fast Company.

2022 Emoji to be Announced Soon

The 2022 emoji will be announced soon (in about a week). There are far fewer emoji compared to years past as a result of increased emoji focus under the new Unicode Emoji Subcommittee chair, the talented Jennifer Daniel of Google. And in fact, because of COVID, the 2022 emoji are actually delayed 2021 emoji, while the 2021 emoji are just the ones in the now-2022 set which were ZWJ sequences that didn't need to go through a whole encoding cycle. Keep an eye out for those. A number of exciting Emojination-enabled proposals are in that set.

Emoji Proposals Paused Until April 2021

Unicode recently announced a pause on emoji submissions until April 2, 2021 due in part to the coronavirus. Because of this, new emoji characters proposed and incorporated then would be scheduled to appear on devices in 2023. Let your emoji ideas percolate in the meantime! 

Want to work with us? Let us know if there’s an emoji you think the world is missing!

Also in the Emojiverse

  • Angela Guzman, a designer and illustrator who pioneered the early foundations of emoji while working for Apple, was interviewed by The Huffington Post for their series “Quiénes Somos,” which highlights the work of Latinx creators. Guzman describes her time creating and growing emoji and the impact of her Colombian heritage on her work. [Huffington Post]

  • If you’re as big a fan of Emojipedia as we are, check out this piece in The New Yorker about Jeremy Burge, the founder and CEO (Chief Emoji Officer) of the site. Jeremy details what it was like to live through and impact the rise of the emoji, and how Emojipedia has evolved as emoji has taken over the world. [The New Yorker]

  • On her popular blog, podcaster and knitting-extraordinaire Amberley Romero details her experience with proposing the 🧶, 🧷, 🧵 and SEWING needle emoji to Unicode with Emojination organizer Amanda Hickman. This year, after the third try, the SEWING NEEDLE will be live. Amberley was able to take her passion and make it into emoji, which we hope will inspire others to do the same! [amberly.dev]

  • Emoji Subcommittee Chair Jennifer Daniel discusses the complications of Emojination’s original ROPE emoji proposal and why it became KNOT. As she explains, “when you think about it and you see that knot next to a tree, you have a suicide. You have a lynching.” [PBS]

  • Adobe and Emojicon partnered with the Emoji2020 academic workshop, co-organized by active Emojination member Sanjaya Wijeratne. Many of you came to our emoji community from there.

✌️😍 Your Emojination Crew


The 2020 Emoji

Apple released a preview of their 2020 emoji this week, with Emojipedia doing a nice write-up. If similar to prior years, these are expected to show up on devices in the next month or so. Emojination folks really rallied and contributed a lot to these; we count at least 38 that were pushed by Emojination members. Here is our best with links to some of the original proposals.

Apologies if we left any of the Emojination proposals and authors off! Email us to correct.

 PINCHED FINGERS, by Adriano Farano, Jennifer 8. Lee and Theo Schear. On behalf of Italians and other Mediterranean communities everywhere. This one was hard because of the statistics: “Italian hand gesture.” Much press coverage, including BBC and Newsweek.

BEAVER, by Joan Donovan and Theo Schear, art by Anna Zhang (read the fun piece in Slate about the BEAVER emoji). Joan, research director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, promised that BEAVER would be the first thing in her bio, and indeed it is.

• BLACK CAT, by Samantha Sunne, art by Aphee Messer (ZWJ sequence of 🐈‍ ⬛, thanks to Kendall Jackson for the color variation support. Sad about the White Wine).

• POLAR BEAR, by Samantha Sunne and Frederik Riedel (ZWJ sequence of 🐻‍ ❄️, again thanks to Kendall Jackson for the color variation support). Lots of debate as to whether it should be BEAR with WHITE or SNOW.

• COCKROACH, by Jason Li, Melissa Thermidor, and Amanda Hickman, art by Aphelandra Messer.

• WORM, by Melissa Thermidor, art by Aphelandra Messer.

• FLY, by Athena Dang and Justin Bai, art by Rebecca Blaesing.

ANATOMICAL HEART, by Christian Kamkoff, Shuhan He, and Melissa Thermidor, art by Anna Zeng. Special nod to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom for this and LUNG.

• LUNG, by Christian Kamkoff, Shuhan He, and Melissa Thermidor, art by Anna Zeng. Again nod to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom for this and LUNG.

• TOOTHBRUSH (Supported by Quip!), by Callum Ponton, Maya Knell, Jennifer 8. Lee, and Samantha Sunne, art by Aphelandra Messer.

• FLATBREAD (originally AREPA), by Sebastian Delmont and Lumen Bigott. We really went to the mat for this one, arguing that it was iconic to Latin American cultures.

BUBBLE TEA, by Timothy Deng, Sujay Khandekar, Ranjitha Kumar, and Yiying Lu (originally proposed as a ZWJ sequence, but then got its own codepoint). Again, somewhat of a struggle. Luckily there is a contingent of Asian American women with emoji influence who could push for this.

• BLUEBERRIES, by Ankita Devasia and Christian Krenek.

TAMALE, by Chasen Le Hara, art by Aphee Messer.

OLIVE, by Ziad Wakim and Sebastian Delmont, art by Aphee Messer (part of our Mediterranean and Middle Eastern produce push. We have still been unsuccessful with FIG, DATE, and POMEGRANATE).

• ROCK, by Christian Krenek, art by Aphee Messer (part of what we call our Settlers of Catan emoji set. Also, we now have a complete set with 📄, ✂️).

• WOOD, by Dylan Sherry, Dwight Knell, Amanda Hickman, Ankita Devasia, and Jennifer 8. Lee  (part of what we call our Settlers of Catan emoji set).

• POTTED PLANT, by Bonnie Discepolo, Trevor Munson, Dwight Knell, and Jennifer 8. Lee (success after being remanded from UTC back to the ESC).

• ACCORDION, by Bruce Triggs, art by Aphee Messer. For an accordion lover.

 LONG DRUM, by Samantha Sunne, art by Aphelandra Messer. (Part of our effort to move away from Western-centric instruments).

• THONG SANDAL (originally FLIP-FLOP), by Callum Ponton and Jennifer 8. Lee, art by Aphelandra Messer. Hard one because of the statistics with FLIP-FLOP.

• HUT, by Samantha Sunne, art by Aphelandra Messer.

WINDOW, by Samantha Sunne, art by Steven Chu (We couldn’t believe this one didn’t already exist).

MIRROR, by Theo Schear, LaTurbo Avedon, and Jennifer 8. Lee. (Also surprised that this didn’t exist).

LADDER, by Kelly Marie Blanchat, art by Aphee Messer.

PLUNGER, by Christian Krenek, art by Aphee Messer. (This one was fun, and we are glad it got through. A bit sad that we might be near the end of our household objects push, as household objects don’t do particularly well in emoji rankings).

BUCKET, by Malik Adan, Theo Schear, and Jennifer 8. Lee, art by Aphee Messer.

• SCREWDRIVER, by David F. Gluckman, Dwight Knell and Jennifer 8. Lee, art by Aphee Messer.

• CARPENTRY SAW, by Alex D. Marx, Dwight Knell and Jennifer 8. Lee, art by Aphee Messer.

COIN, by David McCarthy and Jennifer 8. Lee. (A good way to represent money not in a currency denomination. Proud of this one!).

• PINATA, by Rebecca Blaesing, Kimberly Te, Melissa Thermidor, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Dwight Knell, and Jennifer 8. Lee. Read about this in the Maine Press Herald.

• SEWING NEEDLE (third time’s a charm!), by Amanda Hickman, Amberley Romo, and Mari Gray, art by Aphelandra Messer. Originally part of the set of  🧶, 🧷, 🧵. Read more about the very long journey on Amberley’s blog.

• BOOMERANG, by Callum Ponton, Jacqui Maher, Jennifer 8. Lee, and Justin Stankovic, art by Aphelandra Messer. Part of our Australian push.

• PLACARD, by Theo Schear, and Jennifer 8. Lee, art by Aphelandra Messer. This was designed to represent protests, and seems ripe for 2020.

• MOUSETRAP, by Shirley Wang, art by Aphee Messer (final image is less violent than original design).

KNOT (originally ROPE), by Samantha Sunne, art by Aphelandra Messer. This was changed in part because of the sensitivity of connotations of suicide and lynching, as Jennifer Daniel explains to PBS.

NESTING DOLL (originally MATRYOSHKA), by Jef Gray, Samantha Sunne. (We like this one because it speaks to Russian culture without the nation-state of Russia’s flag).

Much cheer to the hard work of our Emojination members!