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8th April 2016

Open book, smiley face, two thumbs up: The Story of Emoji

– by Anthony Leyton

If, like us, you’ve been blithely using the word ‘emoji’ without knowing where it comes from (Japanese for ‘picture-character’), or assuming that they simply came riding fully formed into digital consciousness on the coat tails of the smartphone (when Robert Herrick incorporated a smiley into a poem back in 1648), then the new book The Story of Emoji from ex-Creative Review writer Gavin Lucas will make highly edifying reading.

Fresh from the press and edited by the wonderwoman of words that is our own Ali Gitlow, the jazzy little hardback [*adopts press-release reading voice*] “traces emoji from their origin as a symbol typeface created specifically for on screen use by a Japanese mobile phone provider in the late 1990s to an international communication phenomenon. As well as a history of emoji and an interview with their creator, Shigetaka Kurita, the book includes an exploration of non-text typefaces, from the decorative fleurons of the early days of the printing press to the innumerable digital typefaces available today, to the use of emoticons, ASCII art and kaomoji in typed messages. It also looks at an array of artworks, fashion lines, special character sets, advertisements and projects that convey emoji’s widespread impact on contemporary culture. Finally, the book concludes with a section for which a group of illustrators, artists and graphic designers have created original emoji characters they wish existed, including bacon, a vinyl record and even a ‘stabbed-in-the-back’ emoji.”

It’s chock full of great graphic design, dripping with fascinating facts and, most importantly, finally answers the question on everyone’s lips: ‘Do emoji users have more sex?’* 

Well done Gavin and Ali – popping champagne, clapping hands, weird dancing bunny twins.

* Yes they do, the filthy picture-typing pervs.  

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