We all know and use the poop emoji, but did you know that this dark brown smiley doodle was inspired by the top of the ice-cream cone emoji? The designer behind the creation of the poop emoji along with many others reveals the inspiration behind the iconic symbol.
Emojis have become an integral part of communication. To simply use an object to express emotion, expectation or plan has brought fun, entertainment and unexpected creativity in messaging. But that was not the case in 2008, the designer behind Apple’s emojis, Angela Guzman, shared the heartwarming journey of creating the symbols and characters with her mentor, Raymond Sepulveda, human interface designer at Apple.
This story was shared on the designer’s blog in 2018, written on the 10th anniversary of emoji, and recently, has resurfaced after a Reddit user shared the poop character behind the scenes on the platform.
The making of Apple’s Emoji: how designing these tiny icons changed my life (‘Raymond reused his happy poop swirl as the top of the ice cream cone. Now that you know, bet you’ll never forget.’) from apple
Apple’s poop emoji inspired by the ice-cream cone top
In the blog, Angela starts with the narration of her nervous first day at Apple as an intern and meeting her mentor, Raymond Sepulveda who was one of the best icon designers in the world. At the time when she was assigned the project, he didn’t know what emoji were but she was given the responsibility of designing Apple-style icons, talk about no pressure on the first day. She wrote,
I was still trying to make sense of the assignment I’d just received when someone asked if I knew what an emoji was. And well, I didn’t, and at the time, neither did the majority of the English speaking world. I answered ‘no’.
This would all change, of course, as the iPhone would soon popularize them globally by offering an emoji keyboard. Moments later I learned what this Japanese word meant and that I was to draw hundreds of them. Just as I was looking down the hallway and internally processing, “This isn’t type or an exercise in layout, these are luscious illustrations,” I was assigned my mentor.
Over the next three months, she and Raymond designed various symbols, we commonly use today, and the most important part of the project was the precious friendship they two had developed. The creation part was tough as every detail mattered but she had fun and some characters have memorable backstories of their own like the poop emoji.
Sometimes our emoji turned out more comical than intended and some have a backstory. For example, Raymond reused his happy poop swirl as the top of the ice cream cone. Now that you know, bet you’ll never forget. No one else who discovered this little detail did either.
We believe in a healthy work environment brings out the best in a person, and that is what Guzman’s blog highlights too. Raymond not only taught her the art of creating icons but also created a conducive workplace for her to grow that when the illustrations were shown to the Steven Jobs, he approved them.
I tried really hard to capture all this in every pixel, zooming in and zooming out, because every detail mattered. And for three months I stared at hundreds of emoji on my screen.
Somewhere in there we also had our first Steve Jobs review, which had created a shared experience of suspense and success when they were approved for launch. And if Steve said it was good to go, I’d say lesson in craftsmanship, check.
Her parting advice for designers was to seek a mentor who will help them grow, like Raymond Sepulveda.
Because magic happens when design leads to friendship, and that friendship leads back to design. For every emoji made, I learned something new. For every emoji made, Raymond and I became better friends. The better friends we became, the better designer I became.