Who would have thought that the tiny, cartoon-like symbols that we use in text messages would become the perfect way to express our thoughts and feelings online? In fact, more than 700 million emojis are used in Facebook posts every day. From a pizza to a paintbrush, emojis are so popular that they have gained their very own World Emoji Day – celebrated on the 17th of July each year.
World Emoji Day is marked on the 17th of July because the iconic calendar emoji displays this date as a default. It is used as a chance to tweet and share our favourite emojis, which are collected as part of the annual World Emoji Awards. Last year, the ‘Most Popular New Emoji’ according to use on Twitter was the white heart, followed closely by a yawning face. It sounds like we all need to try and get some more sleep, but at least there is a lot of love in our lives!
The World Emoji Awards also crowned the ‘Most 2020 Emoji’ award – a raised fist emoji –representing the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is just one example of how emojis can be used for self-expression. New symbols are being added every year, reflecting our diverse and multicultural society. In 2020, for example, the Transgender flag was added, to recognise transgender people across the world.
Back in 2015, five skin tone options were added for each human-based emoji, instead of the original yellow colour. A study by the University of Edinburgh showed that most people who customised their emojis picked ones with skin tones similar to their own, as a way of celebrating their identity.
Express Yourself with Art at the Heart
As a community organisation, we’re always looking for ways to improve people’s wellbeing through creativity and connection to others. Emojis are a great way of imitating your own life – your feelings, the food you’re eating, your plans for the day – and this can also be achieved through art!
In May, for Creativity and Wellbeing Week, we ran a ‘Capturing Facial Expressions’ workshop, designed to train artists to look closely at their own face (using a phone or mirror), and sketch what they see. Just like emojis, we used exaggerated facial expressions to capture extremes of emotions. Take a look at the results below!
So, what is your opinion of emojis? Love them or hate them?
To explore more ways to express yourself, take a look at our ‘What’s On’ page, to find details about our art classes and events.