The people behind the funny faces

By Deng Zhangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-04-30 09:01:28

The people behind the funny faces

These emojis created by an art student were downloaded by 4 million users in one day.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Three years ago, when Liu Jingjing posted on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, a white cartoon image of a chubby figure with a tuft of grass on its head, it is unlikely she imagined just how popular it would become. So popular in fact that millions of people use it each day, making it one of the most popular emojis on China's instant messaging services.

Liu, 21, a second-year student at an art college in Shandong province, works for a Beijing company, Block 12 Studio, as a part-time cartoonist. A recent series of 16 emoticons Liu has designed for the social instant messaging app WeChat, based on that chubby character with grass on its head, was unveiled on March 12 and was downloaded by 4 million users that day.

WeChat users have used Liu's previous series of emoticons of the same cartoon image with different facial expressions and body gestures more than 5 billion times in four months. It means that almost half the Chinese population are using Liu's emoticons while messaging their friends.

"The number is stunning," said Wang Biao, founder of Block 12 Studio. "But that's what's happening in China-cartoonists are gaining instant fame by designing emoji."

Most of the cartoonists who design emoji are not paid for their use, but many hope that the financial rewards will begin to flow after their works gain exposure and they can start selling them to individual users in other forms such as books and to companies that use their cartoon images for marketing.

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