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The Emoji: An Introduction

In recent years, the emoji has made a comeback. Emoticons were commonly featured in apps from the 90s used to communicate online in the early days of the internet through systems such as AOL messenger, MSN and Yahoo, but as technology evolved, so too did the humble emoji. And soon to be trapped: the lobster emoji!

Lobster Emoji
Lobster Emoji

We now stay in contact with friends and family using a variety of tools. Not only is there the trusty SMS, a world of apps is now available at the swipe of a screen or the tap of a button. The whole way in which we communicate has changed, particularly with the introduction of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—not to mention apps like Snapchat. The power of the smartphone allows us to communicate instantly and keep up to date with friends and family at home, at work or while on the move.

What is an Emoji?

An emoji in its simplest form is a representation of an emotion, symbol or object.

The emoji has a long and varied history in instant communication. Smiley faces, thumbs up (or down), or a wave provides a fast and simple way to communicate that everyone understands, and in any language. In this post we will look in particular at a new emoji to be introduced this year, the lobster and why it has created so much discussion and perhaps controversy amongst emoji users and lobster enthusiasts.

Before we look in more detail at the lobster emoji, let’s first explore the history of the lobster and how it has been represented (or in many cases misrepresented) in both art and life.

The Lobster, History, and Art

So we all know that our favorite furry friends have four legs, from the rabbit to the hamster, and what about the not so loved spider? You know that they have eight legs, right? But, quiz question, how many legs do lobsters have? Four, six, eight or ten perhaps? Or maybe it’s not something that you have ever thought about, until now.

Cat and Lobster
Pablo Picasso’s Lobster And Cat: Credit Guggenheim’s Thannhauser Collection

A brand new blog called Lobsters Have Ten Legs has been created in an attempt to explain and share with readers the inaccurate ways in which lobsters have been portrayed in art and in general. The website goes on to explain that there are so many inaccuracies when it comes to the lobster from children’s illustrations and the design of stuffed animals through to simple logos used for company branding.

It often appears that lobsters have just eight legs rather than the 10, including the two claws at the front and then the four smaller legs on either side of the lobster’s body. Traditionally lobsters aren’t the first subject of choice for artists, but they do appear from time to time. Some well-known artists have included the lobster in their artwork including Albrecht Durer, Eugene Delacroix, Salvador Dali, Utagawa Kuniyoshi and even Picasso who created his work ‘Lobster And Cat’ (shown above) when he was 80 years old.

Lobsters – A Sea of Color

In all of the artwork that you see, whether it’s a cartoon image of a lobster, a logo or an emoji, typically they are red. But is this really the right color? Are lobsters really red? Some may argue that the answer to this is yes, they are red in the wild and there have been many customers who have questioned whether a lobster is safe to consume given that it wasn’t the traditional red color that we are all so familiar with.

As the number of cooking channels continues to increase and reality television shows such as the Lobstermen on Discovery, attitudes about what is considered to be a normal lobster color are changing. People are becoming more aware that the traditional lobster that you find in Maine, or anywhere else in the world is available in a variety of colors. Some of the colors that you may come across include:

Blue – This color of lobster is quite uncommon and is attributed simply due to a genetic mutation.

Yellow – These are really rare so if you find one it really is like striking gold. This color lobster is so rare in fact, that there is only one in 30,000,000 that will be yellow. As with the blue lobster, their color is due to a genetic mutation.

Albino – You can even get albino lobsters and they lack any kind of pigmentation throughout their body, with 1 in 100 million lobsters being albino.

Calico – Sometimes referred to as an orange lobster, these are also particularly rare and can be distinguished by their mottled orange and black pattern.

Chimerical – Some lobsters have uneven coloring with different patterns on either side of their body.

Red – Finally we come to the color that we all recognize when we see a lobster. Red lobsters do exist in the wild but not as frequently as you might think. Lobsters that are red in the wild just have more pigment which gives them the coloring and they stay red once they are cooked.

Even though the lobster is found in many colors, red seems to be the color of choice for artists and emoji designers. So why has the lobster emoji caused so much discussion after the mock-up was released on Emojipedia.

The Lobster Emoji – A Controversial Design

If you love lobsters and you are obsessed with emojis you are probably getting increasingly excited by the introduction of 157 new emojis in 2018 and one of which is, yes you guessed it, the lobster. This little emoji could be used to express your love of the crustacean or it could be to tell someone you have been out in the sun a little too long.

First look: All 150+ Emojis for 2018

The initial lobster emoji design

When the website, Emojipedia, released a mockup of what the proposed new emoji would look like, it presented a problem: the lobster was missing two legs. In Maine, lobsters are kind of a big deal. When the lobster emoji was introduced, many were angered that the latest addition was anatomically inaccurate. The lobster as everyone knows it has four sets of walking legs and then two large claws at the top of the lobster’s body. The lack of legs caused much debate amongst lobster enthusiasts and emoji fans. However, fear not. In response to the huge discussion surrounding the anatomically incorrect lobster, the emoji was redesigned – as it should be. However, with the redesign, some commented that the debate appeared to be rather silly for a number of reasons.

Why the Lobster Emoji Controversy is Controversial

Firstly, the website where the mock-up was published, Emojipedia doesn’t have any say in how the final designs will look; it is up to the tech giants Google and Apple who will be responsible for their implementation. The Unicode Consortium, which is a not for profit organization, will screen proposals from people who request new emoji designs and they are the ones who will decide which ones are actually published. They will also check that the proposed emoji will actually translate across multiple platforms. So, if you send a hamster from your iPhone it will display correctly on an Android operating system.

Secondly, emojis are meant to be fun; not an expertly formed replica containing every little detail of the original object, symbol or animal. They are not meant to be a perfect representation of the objects that they depict. So are the people who are expecting the lobster to be anatomically correct asking a little too much? Perhaps. Consider this; an airplane emoji isn’t technically correct and the unicorn emoji represents something that doesn’t exist. These are just two examples that illustrate the emoji doesn’t necessarily have to look exactly like the item or animal it is supposed to replicate, nor does it have to be technically accurate or absolutely perfect. Perhaps most importantly, do these minor details really stop the emoji from being understood? Maybe, maybe not.

For some, it is very important that where the emoji depicts something ‘real’ like a lobster, it should be an accurate representation of the animal or object. Even more so if the emoji is something that is instantly recognizable. In this sense, the way in which the emoji is designed really does matter. That being said, the debate often rests with who is sending the emoji and the context in which the lobster is being used. Emojis are symbols that are used across many different communities and the number of legs (or lack of) on a lobster will matter more to some people than it will to others.

After much debate on social media, the designers at the the nonprofit Unicode Consortium have gone back to the drawing board (literally) and redesigned the lobster emoji, with the right amount of legs.

The Design Process

Creating an emoji is a lengthy process. Each of the icons needs to represent something that can be instantly recognized; a symbol, an animal, a smiley face or a lobster, but the creation of these little emojis take more time and effort than what you would imagine. Each icon needs to be meticulously researched, reviewed by a sub-committee, refined and approved.

Your own emoji?

If you have an idea for an emoji, you are in luck. The process is open to anyone who has a genuine emoji idea and you can submit this to be considered by the Unicode Consortium. But be warned, the process is both complex and challenging. With an idea in mind for the next best emoji, you really do have to put forward a strong argument for why it would prove so popular. Before you even suggest an emoji you should first consider whether it would work. This is a long process that requires extensive research. You would need to evaluate trends, conduct in-depth online searches, explore blogs and scroll through endless Twitter feeds just to find out what people are looking for and whether your emoji idea may be in demand.

Once the Consortium has reviewed the proposal and you have received the required approval, the new emoji symbols have to be standardized which is just the beginning of the creative process. Black and white versions of the new emoji are created before the artwork is developed and simplified, so people can immediately recognize the character. The creatives will then set to work to formulate the colors applying a variety of visual styles. The final emoji is then finalized and sent for approval.

This is the same process for every single emoji and it can take many months to complete. So the little lobster that’s on its way in 2018 has been a long time in the making and emoji users cannot wait until it is released along with 156 other emojis this year.

Want to draw your own lobster? Here you go!

How to Draw a Lobster: The Right Way

With all this talk about lobsters, have you ever wondered how to draw a lobster? Well, in this section, we will teach you how in just a few easy steps. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be the next Picasso to master the art of drawing a lobster. This super simple lesson is for complete beginners, even if your drawing skills aren’t the best. So here goes, and by the end of step 6 you should have your very own, hand-drawn lobster!

Step 1 – The Body

The first step is to create the body of the lobster. Picture the shape of the lobster in your mind as you start to draw. For the body, draw an oval shape, but make sure you include a small dent in the top of your oval. Also add three circles at the bottom of the oval, like the shape of the lobster.

Step 2 – The Eyes

Towards the top of your oval, where the dent is, draw two medium sized circles for the lobster’s eyes.

Step 3 — The Tail

At the bottom of the body, draw a small oval shape in the center and then add two oval shapes either side with a small dent in either side of the oval.

Step 4 – The Arms

Next, you will need to draw two small squares on either side of the body, stacked on top of each other.

Step 5 — The Claws

Draw two ovals at the end of the squares that you have just drawn. Draw a line in the middle of each roughly to the center of the oval shape.

Step 6 — The Legs

The last section is to add in the legs (10, remember!). Draw five legs either side of the lobster’s body. Think of spider legs but a little thicker.

That’s it! You should now have a picture that resembles a lobster. Simple as that. Who would have thought that drawing a lobster would be so easy?

The Anatomy of a Perfectly Created Lobster

If you don’t know your carapace from your claws, this section will teach you everything you need to know about the perfectly created lobster.

The Carapace – This is the hard lobster shell but in cooking where the knuckles, claws, and tail have been removed.

The Claws – The lobster has two claws, one of which is slightly larger than the other. The larger claw is known as a crusher claw. The smaller one is the cutter or the pincer.

The Knuckles – These are two joints that connect the carapace and the large claws.

Tail – This is the largest part of the lobster.

Legs – Usually there are four legs on either side of the body.

In cooking, there are three parts of the lobster; the roe, ‘white stuff’ and the tomalley.

Roe – Red in color, these are very small eggs from the female lobster. When uncooked, roe is black. Lobster eggs were once thought to be comparable with caviar because they were once a classic delicacy.

White Stuff – Lobster blood and has a similar appearance to egg whites because it is clear when it is uncooked.

Tomalley – Found in the carapace, this is the liver and pancreas of the lobster. It’s not recommended that you consume huge amounts of tomalley, because it is the liver after all and it can contain toxins or other contaminants that you wouldn’t really want to consume.

How to Get the Lobster Emoji on iOS and Android?

While the lobster emoji official release is set for June 5, 2018, it will take not be immediately available on your smartphone device. It’s likely you’ll net the new lobster emoji on your Iphone shortly after the release of iOS 12, sometime in October.  For Android, the lobster may roll out in August with the release of  Android P,  the ninth major upgrade to its operating system (Android 9.0). Android “P” beta was released May 9, 2o18.  As mentioned,  the emoji that you’ll actually see will appear differently depending if you use an Apple or Android (Google) phone.

The Future of the Emoji

Whether you are a lobster lover or not, the lobster, and emojis, in general, are not going anywhere anytime soon. These little characters represent a significant change in creativity and the way in which we communicate. Emojis break down language barriers and they are a universal set of characters combining language and imagery which can help restore the balance of communication.

Imagery helps to encourage us to make sense of our emotions and empathize with the message being communicated. As the saying goes, a picture (or an emoji in this case) can paint a thousand words. This year be sure to text message the little lobster emoji to someone special— or, even better, login to LobsterAnywhere.com and send a Maine lobster!

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