The tale of the Fail Whale artist

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Published on November 02, 2014 with No Comments

In Chinese, Yi Ying are two words for “happy,” and “creative.” In some ways it’s an appropriate name for artist Yi Ying Lu who has an upbeat, bubbly personality. She believes the best way to pronounce her name correctly is to smile while saying it. It is also odd that Yiying is the artist behind Twitter’s now famous Fail Whale. You know the one. It’s that image you hate to see when Twitter is over capacity and can’t process whatever you’re requesting. Even more, the Fail Whale’s path to fame and fortune for its creator is an inspirational intersection of talent, luck and the vast reach of an individual living in the Digital Age. Originally, it was a drawing of birds carrying an elephant, an effort to communicate the heft of Yiying’s feelings about missing her friends in China while she attended art school in Australia. The whale emerged once she moved to London and wished to greet her friends in Sydney, which is in New South Wales, Australia.

Yiying Lu

Yiying Lu (Photo credit: Laughing Squid)

Along the way, Yiying and her friends and the elephants, birds and whales might have all lived happily ever after as she carved out her design career. But this being the digital age, she posted the whale graphic on iStock photo and went on with her merry life. Meanwhile Biz Stone was apparently trolling the iStock photo files where he would find the whale art and as we all know the rest is history. The single piece of work has launched numerous versions including one with Conan O’Brien as “The Pale Whale,” to announce his latest show. The Fail Whale, which took just about five minutes of  “technical” time, but “a lifetime spent learning and creating,” also launched Yiying’s happy, creative career into the stratosphere – in more ways than one. Just last month she relocated to Las Vegas, starting up Walls 360 which creates wall graphics for the vast spectrum of wall graphics uses.

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