Digital culture is replacing words with emojis, and I am fascinated with it! As a visual artist, I know the power of using symbols to communicate, and how they give us nonverbal ways to express our ideas and share our experiences.
I have been reading about the design and history of emojis and icons, and have learned that visual language isn’t as new as I originally thought. My studies reminded me of cave paintings, the Egyptians, Native Americans, Asians and many other cultures who have used picture based language for thousands of years. Even in recent times, we regularly use symbols for bathroom 🚻, danger⚠️, navigation↪️🚸, operating machinery⛔️, and so forth. An advantage of visual language is that it can transcend other languages. If you have ever visited a country where you don’t know the language, there is no doubt that icons helped you understand important information.
To practice this idea, I have started to create my own icons/emojis to tell you all a little bit about my week. This is what the weather was like in Old Washington.
In my personal life, I have been taking a 7-day break from Facebook every month (which freed up a lot of time for studio work and exploring the world of emojis). I thought this symbol was a good way to represent that experience:
It’s interesting how, nowadays, adult coloring books have become bestsellers and Bob Dylan recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. (For the record: i think both adult coloring books and Bob Dylan are great!). As our language continues to evolve, maybe in the future, a visual artist can win a the Pulitzer Prize for a work of art written in emoji?