Designing emojis is this woman’s actual job

Designing emojis for a living is dream job territory. Here, Twitter's chief emoji designer reveals her tricks of the trade

Emma Hopkins’ job is designing emojis for Twitter, which is pretty cool we think. We met the 25-year-old from Somerset to find out more…

How does one go about becoming an emoji designer?

‘I joined Twitter as a sales designer, designing presentations for events and internal documents. Somebody in the media partnerships team needed some emojis designed for The X Factor, so I put my hand up for the task, sketched a few out and they liked them. Within weeks, my emojis had appeared on ITV. My job is now designing emojis across all of Twitter.’

What did you do previously?

‘I studied graphic design at Bath Spa University, largely designing and illustrating for print but I always believe you should push to better yourself ahead of the curve. Designing for web is the future, it’s where we’re all heading, so after university I taught myself web and app design. I also did some unpaid internships with some local web-focused design agencies to gain experience. I went in not knowing what I was doing but I learned so much on the job.’

Do you have a creative process?

‘Designing emojis is a form of illustration so I have a brief, for example a celebrity who is in the news that week, or a character from a new TV show, and I sketch them out. They are then scanned in and I use a program such as Illustrator or Photoshop to refine them.’

What’s been your favourite emoji that you’ve created?

‘Justin Bieber was pretty good. But he was a tricky one because he kept changing his hairstyle so I needed to update his emoji constantly! As Twitter is a rolling news platform, I tend to keep on top of pop culture and if, say, Britney has a new album coming out then I know we’ll be planning a Britney emoji sometime soon. My rubbish bingeing on celebrity gossip actually comes in handy for this job!’


Emoji designer Emma Hopkins (photo: Nyla Sammons)

Emoji designer Emma Hopkins (photo: Nyla Sammons)

What emoji is missing from your life?

‘Designing emojis for the Kardashians would be great. Imagine… Kylie Jenner would be a brilliant one to draw. But I think Kim probably owns her own emoji already. I’d also love to see a Kanye emoji. One that comes to life with audio of his rants. That would be amazing.’

And your most used emoji?

‘The heart eyes emoji is the one I use the most. I never use those symbols though, I have no idea what they do. I hear that there’s going to be a Mrs Claus emoji soon. I like that. Equality in emojis!’

What’s the future?

‘I have just created a product in Twitter that we use at trade events – the emoji booth – people come to me and I drawn them as an emoji, before scanning it in and it gets tweeted out to them. I’m constantly being asked, can you do my emoji? I think this could be set to be the new photobooth at weddings.’

Follow @EmmaHopkins on Twitter

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