For LA-based designer Sam Cantor, Frida Kahlo was the perfect inspiration. Cantor and his father run the Cantor Fine Art, and one of their projects was to create an emoji of artists. They had asked a question to their Instagram visitors about who they would want to see turned into emoji. Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, and van Gogh were among the nominees, but after actually getting down to work, the designer realized that Frida Kahlo was the most suitable of them all.

Behind the FridaMoji

Cantor then talked to the Frida Kahlo Corporation, who owns the rights to the brand name Frida Kahlo World Wide, and the discussion quickly made them realize that they shared the same vision for her legacy.

Frida had produced 143 paintings, 55 of which were self-portraits, throughout her life. Her works communicate so honestly her passion and emotions, the heartaches, pain, and suffering in her life.

“What better artist to translate into emoji, which we use to express emotion today?” Cantor said of the FridaMoji process. He himself had spent years working for advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, where he had sharpened his art direction and graphic design skills. Cantor and his father worked together with the Frida Kahlo Corporation. For the research, he went on a trip to Mexico City to study Kahlo's paintings in person. He then produced 400 emojis out of the artist’s life, paintings and scholarship.

The FridaMoji release

FridaMoji is distributed through Apple’s App Store by Museumito, a collaboration between Sam Cantor and his father in partnership with the Frida Kahlo Corporation. The icons are released in sets within the bundle, with clear reference to Frida. One icon, for example, shows Kahlo surrounded by tangled thorns, which is based on her “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940).

In many icons, she is portrayed attached to a monkey, based on Frida’s “Self-Portrait with Monkeys” (1943). The base emoji of Frida in her famous flower-decorated hair is created by tweaking the classic woman emoji, and then adding to it the crown of flowers made of hibiscus flower, cherry blossom icons, the monkey emoji, and a unibrow.