Think with me: some time from now, when you reflect on the decade in which we currently live, how will I classify it? The decade of memes? The decade of social networks? All valid answers, but I would prefer to say: the decade of emoji.
Of course, of course, the (today) ubiquitous figurines existed long before that decade and were already extremely popular in Japan for a long time, but it was their entry on the iPhone, in 2008 originally only on the Japanese keyboard and then, after wide popular demand, in all the other languages, which marked emojis permanently on the retina of popular culture.
Now, in celebration of ten years of the debut of the faces on the Apple smartphone, their creator shared a text on Medium detailing this process and the depth in which it changed your life. And guess what, the story is very different from what we imagined.
Enter the scene Angela Guzman, summer of 2008. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, she was called on to an internship at Apple and soon started working on the iPhone team. Initially, there was no specific project for Guzman, but soon a very special mission fell on his lap: producing about 500 emojis that would be introduced on the Japanese smartphone keyboard. The problem: no one knew what emojis were.
I was still trying to understand the task I had just received when someone asked if I knew what an emoji was. And, well, I didn't know at the time neither I nor most of the English-speaking world. And I answered "no". That would all change, of course, when the iPhone made them popular by offering an emoji keyboard. Moments later I knew what that word in Japanese meant and that I would have to draw hundreds of them. As I walked down the hall and processed internally "this is not a typography or layout exercise, just fun illustrations", my mentor introduced himself.
Then there were three months of work by Guzman and Raymond, his mentor, designing and drawing hundreds of faces, places, flags, animals, food, clothes, symbols, holidays, sports and much more, as the designer notes, in the pattern of Apple's excellence. She reports how perfectionist the process was: each new figurine was thought out pixel by pixel, with the details being analyzed at each step of the process, from the spots on the eggplant to the way the leather was sewn onto the football. In the middle of the whole process, of course, Steve Jobs came to analyze the progress of the task.
At some point we had our first review by Steve Jobs, who created a shared experience of suspense and success when they were approved for release. And if Steve said it was good to be released, I would say: craft class, check.
Other details about creating the emojis may make you never look at them the same way again: the basic shape of the infamous coconut emoji, for example, has been duplicated to make the top of the ice cream emoji in the cone, which can be quite disturbing depending on the way you think. ?? Guzman also talks about how they made the figurines more difficult for last, like the woman dancing in the red dress.
Guzman also recalls that, although she and Raymond are responsible for creating the initial 500 iPhone emojis (and even have a patent for them), a number of other Apple designers helped with the project and many others created figurines that later appeared the total today is in the thousands, and the duo's creations have even turned into figures that move based on the user's face.
This is a success story, isn't it?