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Story of the Twitter Fail Whale Image

For Creator of Twitter s Whale a Fail in Name Only NYTimes com


Ms. Lu, who was born in Shanghai, moved to New South Wales, Australia, as a teenager and later studied in London at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. She created the whale as a birthday icon she would send to friends who were scattered around the world. It was meant to depict a whale so full of good wishes that it needed a little help from its bird friends.

In 2008, she posted it to, a royalty-free service where photographers and artists can post their work and license it for a small fee.

Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s co-founders, went to iStockphoto during Twitter’s early days when the site hit a rough patch with regular shutdowns. He was looking for a cheap image that could be used as a symbol when the Twitter site was down temporarily but would return soon. Ms. Lu’s image struck a chord with him and, as it soon became apparent, with Twitter’s followers.

Ms. Lu only discovered later that Twitter was using her whale image when a fan — one of many around the world who had named the image ‘Fail Whale’ — contacted her to congratulate her. “When it came up I had no idea,” she said, “I didn’t even have a Twitter account.”

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I love this story.

I also love her hippo art:

twitter hippo money yiyinglu

Twitter bird is riding the hippos ass to nom money from the cloud!

More yiyinglu art:

Twitter fail whale elephant yiyinglu

Twitter fail whale heart yiyinglu

Twitter fail whale record player yiyinglu

Twitter fail whale deer reindeer yiyinglu

It looks cool and wicked, and wicked and cool.

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