Former Apple Employee Shares How Designing Emoji Changed Her Life

Former Apple employee Angela Guzman, who currently works as a design manager at Google, has shared the story of how she and her mentor Raymond designed Apple’s original emoji set, and together changed the way people communicate around the world (via Medium). They created some of the most widely used emoji, including face with tears of joy, pile of poo, red heart, and party popper.


Guzman recalls how she landed an internship at Apple in the summer of 2008, and joined the same team which was responsible for the iPhone that had launched the year prior. “One could only imagine the size of my butterflies as I flew to Cupertino and arrived at 1 Infinite Loop”, she writes. Soon after, she was handed the project of designing these tiny icons, even though she had no idea what an emoji was.

Moments later I learned what this Japanese word meant and that I was to draw hundreds of them. Just as I was looking down the hallway and internally processing, “This isn’t type or an exercise in layout, these are luscious illustrations,” I was assigned my mentor.

For the next three months Raymond and I would share an office and illustrated an array of faces, places, flags, animals, food, clothing, symbols, holidays, sports, and well, you probably know the rest. But long before any of this was complete, I had to learn how to design Apple-styled icons. We split the batch and the lesson in humility and craftsmanship began.

You can read the lengthy article in its entirety at this link. It’s quite an interesting read.