How to Get Laid (More Often) With Emojis

American artist Katy McCarthy has turned her artistic talent into a digital tool for everyone to use in the name of being horny. Art, fun and sex as a keyboard!

When you think about it, we have always missed a banana with a half rolled on condom, canned whip cream, blue balls, a pearl necklace, various vaginas, a twerking butt and leather masks emoji when sexting.

Under the name Flirtmoji, in collaboration with artist Jeremy Yingling and developer Cory Logan, Katy McCarthy has created a sparkly, humorous and sexy collection of emojis. She has put her visual skills into stepping up your sext game – and these unusual flirtmojis come in handy more than you would think. Forget about the eggplant, water droplets and standard pink tongue, and dive into the creative female mind behind the cheeky universe of Flirtmoji.

Katy, lets talk about sext (see what I did there?) – how did the idea for Flirtmoji spark?

Katy McCarthy: I was living in Berkeley with a bunch of other young, single folks. We were all avidly ’Tindering’ and ‘OkCupid-ing’, and we needed a set of icons that do the job. We realized; “Oh wait, we should actually do that!” At the local bar we started making lists of what these icons would be, and Flirtmoji slowly came to life and evolved. All good art ideas starts and flourishes in bars, I think. Some of my best memories of Flirtmoji are from sitting in that bar making these long lists of weird, bizarre sexual niche behaviors and finding fun ways to represent them by 100 x 100 pixels.

What is the creative process of making the flirtmojis as an artist?

Some of the more interesting parts of the creative process involve drawing from actual bodies translating them into these flat icons. I’ve done that with my own body and some of my best friends’ bodies. I figure draw them as they pose in all kinds of strange positions, so that I can see for an example what breasts look like up side down, laying on the back etc. I watercolor them and afterwards we vectorize them in illustrator. A lot of our emojis starts as doodles in our sketchbooks all hodgepodged together with funny things and ideas from the internet until it turns into what we feel is the right kind of image. We have found that drawing a lot of things by hand is a really effective way of maintaining the humanity of these objects.

Is it important for you that real bodies are the creative starting point?

Oh, definitely! When we started the project it was super important that it was real people – and to have all kinds of bodies represented. It still is. That doesn’t always mean that it is real people or that it is always my own vagina, but all our flirtmojis are drawn from life. In some of the art you can really see the different flesh – not just in color, but also in the way bodies are shaped. And it is really such a pleasure for me to be able to make something that is representative of someone.

Emojis are normally characterized by being simplified, stylized icons representing real life items. But many of your flirtmojis – especially the ones representing the female body – are diverse and close to anatomically correct?

Our style has evolved, and it has taken a turn for the more anatomically correct look while still being an illustration. It is definitely the balance between the two that is the goal – and my co-artist Jeremy has been a hardcore champion for this. The goal is to make something that is iconographic, but not false or in any way feels unrealistic or unrelatable. We want to avoid to make illustrations that makes you feel totally separated from reality the way you do when you look at a Disney movie where you wonder; where did they get these proportions and faces – everything is so weird. We want these emojis to be very personal and intimate – especially because they are meant to be flirtatious. So they are created to feel like they’re yours.

How can changing the look of a sexting emoji challenge the way we think about sex and conversation around it?

Flirtmoji is all about taking a casual exchange and evolving it into something a little sexier, or goofier (I send them to my girlfriends). They’re also designed to communicate a vast, vast array of desires between intimate couples. By wracking our brain and trolling the internet we try to include a taste of every fetish or kink or sex joke. So if you’re feeling secretive or provocative, if you’re married or freshly single and mingling…. there’s a Flirtmoji for you. Andddd our new iOS keyboard (which we’re creaming our panties over!) means the right Flirtmoji to kindle whatever level of intimacy you’re looking for is just a tap away.

Why is it missing?

I can be an awkward sexter. I compose some flirty text thinking Oh fuck yeah this is really it… only to get a one-word response of Huh?  So we’ve done a lot of the hard work over here to make it easier for you and the recipient of your advances to get down and dirty. Words are amazing and powerful, but sometimes you just need to send a fuzzy handcuff Flirtmoji. ‘Nuff said.

What is your favourite one?

I’m obsessed with the voodoo doll. I like to get witchy.

What is the silliest one you made – that you’ve used?

The Cockrocket.