Picture Character (2019)

  • 1h 21m
  • Ian Cheney
  • Martha Shane
  • United States, Germany, Japan, Argentina

Download the PICTURE CHARACTER teaching resource here:

Tuesday 30th June, Intro 12:30pm , Q&A 2pm - 230pm
Join the Intro / Q&A Session

“I just thought it was something that would make people happy.”
– Shigetaka Kurita, inventor of the emoji

Ian Cheney and Martha Shane take a deep dive past the smiling 💩💩💩 into the complex, conflict-prone 🤯, and often hilarious 😂😂😂 world of the creators, lovers and arbiters of emoji – the world’s newest pictorial language.

The rapid rise ↗ of emoji (Japanese for “picture character”) is a global phenomenon without precedent.

Their widespread use and ability to convey complex messages have not only cemented their place as an emerging digital language, but have also prompted difficult questions about the creation of a language.

Not least among these are issues of race, identity and inclusion. Approval of new emojis in the hands of a private company, the Unicode Consortium.

Shigetaka Kurita, the Japanese interface designer who invented emojis over 20 years ago, created 176 emojis. From their humble beginnings in Japan, they’ve spread – to mobile 📲 the 🌏 over.

There are now 2,823 emojis. 👏👏👏👏👏


Ian Cheney


Martha Shane


English, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish



Bonus Content

Picture Character Director Interview
NZ Emoji Artist Interview