An emoji is a visual language representing feelings, ideas and things. Developed in Japan around 1998, the word emoji consists of the Japanese words ‘e’ (picture) and ‘moji’ (character). Today, emoji is used worldwide to prevent misunderstandings in text-based communication. It’s also a way to communicate faster and globally, since the whole world shared the same set of symbols. Researchers suggests that 80% of the mobile phone users use emoji and describe it as the fastest growing language.

How does the popularity of emoji influence our society? Is it the end of the dominance of words and will our alphabetic script change into a more hybrid version? And what are social and psychological consequences of expressing our feelings in defined symbols? Lilian Stolk is currently collecting answers to all these questions, which she will publish in her book Tears of Joy.

With an emoji survey and an interactive poster campaign, Lilian Stolk is collecting information about how current emoji-design is received. If you’re willing to contribute to this research, you can fill in the survey.


Emoji poster

Lilian flew to Japan to get the full emoji story. She met emoji’s godfather Shigetaka Kurita. While diving into the Japanese text-culture, she found out that emoji is now old-fashioned. Since the Japanese social messaging LINE introduced their stickers, which can be seen as next level emoji, these bigger icons became extremely popular. It’s even possible to design your own sticker set. Lilian talked to LINE’s sticker manager Naotomo Watanabe and several sticker designers.

Shigetaka Kurita, inventor of emoji, August 2016


Naotomo Watanabe, sticker manager LINE, August 2016