We’ve been a little surprised by the outpouring of enthusiasm for World Emoji Day so far: Apple released a sneak peeks of its new emoji designs, Google signaled the end of its blobs, and the Empire State Building will be lit up in yellow to mark the occasion. (No, we’re not kidding.) Still, despite how hugely culturally relevant these characters have become, details like how new emoji go from idea to icon can sometimes feel shrouded in obscurity. To learn more about the process, we sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Jeremy Burge, founder of Emojipedia.
Beyond his work at Emojipedia — which sees millions of hits a month — Burge is also a member of the Unicode Consortium’s emoji sub-committee. As he explains it, think of it as the first line of defense against all the inevitably lousy emoji proposals people (and brands) try and squeeze into the Unicode standard. We also dig into whether emoji truly are a universal visual language, and whether an emoji movie was unavoidable. (Spoiler alert: Burge definitely thinks so.)