Stickers like the mischievous cartoon pig and other quirky creatures are all the rage in China, giving the artists behind them a way to make money and win fans — as long as they stay within the bounds of censorship.
The creator of Silly Piggy, River Rui, was able to leave her office job with a design firm and set up as an independent artist thanks to the success of the character.
“‘Silly Piggy’ is more like how I am in my little world, how I interact with my friends, it’s that ‘Silly Piggy’ kind of style,” Rui told AFP.
The pig has many moods: he types furiously at his desk as tears stream down his face. He lays flat on the office floor as his spirit leaves his body.
“Basically anyone who has done overtime will have the same feelings as him,” said Rui as she doodled on a scrap of paper in a Shanghai cafe.
Unlike memes and animated GIFs popular outside China, instant messaging stickers are often original creations of local artists who can see their little characters enjoy spectacular popularity among the country’s 847 million mobile internet users and spread offline through commercial licensing deals.