Mike Oh Can Make You into an Emoji

Mike Oh is redefining emoticon communication.

When the 28-year-old Bushwick inhabitant was working as the resident artist and art director for Shop Jeen, an online retailer with a heavy emphasis on pop culture, he stumbled upon his love for emojis.

“The founder came to me one day and asked me to create an image of the Bloods gang sign using hands,” Oh told me. “I don’t know where the idea came from, but I decided to make it out of the emoji hands.”

After the piece went viral on social media, Oh knew he had something.

x @thefatjewish x #mohjiportraits 🍕This dude is basically my hero

A photo posted by ⚡️Mike Oh 👉💥Artist (@mmmikeoh) on


“People would freak out when I showed them,” he said. “I felt the relevance and the power of emojis for the first time then.”

For holidays and special events, he’d create themed faces and items that would be especially usable for the occasion (mummies or smileys with vampire fangs on Halloween, for example). He also has observed comments on forums and blogs, creating emojis based on demands from the public. Now, he has an entirely remixed library of his own emojis, including a peace sign, a unicorn, a taco, bacon, and an avocado.

x #northwest x #mohjiportraits ❄️ It’s Nori Season A photo posted by ⚡️Mike Oh 👉💥Artist (@mmmikeoh) on

Oh decided to bring these lovable emojis even closer to home, and he began to create custom portraits. His customers can request Oh to design emoji look-alikes of their friends, family, pets, or themselves. He’s even done depictions of iconic faces in pop culture, like Fat Jew, Katy Perry, and North West. “I love using emojis as a medium right now because it transcends language barriers. I can effectively communicate with someone from China, Mexico or Russia, and they all understand what the winking emoji means. It’s a universal language at this point.” Oh told me that the original emojis were intended to appeal to Japanese ’90s pop culture, which is why much of the current offering is irrelevant to American youth. Oh is determined to fill this void, and he hopes to work with large companies like Apple in the future, in order to take his next-level emojis to, well, the next level.


x #katyperry x #leftshark x #mohjiportraits


A photo posted by ⚡️Mike Oh 👉💥Artist (@mmmikeoh) on


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