Los Angeles-based gallerist and graphic designer Sam Cantor has created an amazing set of 160 emojis inspired by the work of the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Sam runs Cantor Fine Art with his father. To generate engagement on the gallery’s social media sites, he came up with the idea of creating artist-inspired emojis, then asked their followers which artists to feature.
Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and van Gogh were among the artists requested by the public and featured as emojis, but Cantor says his Frida Kahlo set has been the most popular by far.
The first he posted was a variation of the classic ‘woman’ emoji. He added a crown of flowers, the ‘monkey’ emoji, and the unibrow. It was a hit on their social feeds, attracting the attention of top museums, artist foundations, and Korean emoji companies asking to partner with him.
Sam’s project eventually caught the attention of the company who owns the Frida Kahlo rights, the Frida Kahlo Corporation. They thought of Cantor’s initiative as the perfect opportunity to expose the work and life of the great painter to new generations.
Beatriz Alvarado, from the Frida Kahlo Corporation, explained to Artsy, “We both wanted to channel her voice into everyday life—and, in particular, to connect millennials and centennials to her work,” she added, “Working with new technologies, like emoji, felt like a powerful way to do that.”
One of the fascinating challenges of the project was to translate the emotion and complexity of Kahlo’s work into the language of emoji. As Cantor put it, “How do we express that Frida is more than just a unibrow and a flower crown?”
So he studied the artist’s work more extensively and even traveled to Mexico to see her iconic paintings in person. He spent two weeks studying Kahlo’s heart-wrenching depictions of loss, passion, and solitude.
Celebrated works such as Las Dos Fridas, Hummingbird, and Self-Portrait with Cropped hair provided more than enough inspiration for the 400 initial designs he made, of which 160 finally made the final cut.
FridaMoji is currently available through the App Store. The free pack features 35 emojis and animated gifs capturing a wide range of Frida’s iconic work. Additional packs are available through in-app purchases.