Big 2019 update: Buoymoji stickers are live on the App Store! Also see the Buoymoji product page for details.


This is a quick story about a side-project I started messing around with back in November of 2016.

I had a few motivations for working on this in my spare time:

  • I wanted to do something with design software that was purely creative and unrelated to the business projects I was contributing to
  • I grew up in the North East and I’m a sucker for nautical stuff and I often use buoy images and seafaring characters in my personal ‘fine art’ and illustration
  • At the time I was looking for interesting ways to leverage Sketch symbols for illustrated characters, other designers like Pablo Stanley have explored similar ideas and he really hit it out of the park with his initial release of Aavataaars

Buoymoji colorways color variations by James Young

Buoymoji rolling on the floor laughing by James YoungMy thinking at the time was to create some alternatives to standard emojis. The challenge offered a simple set of constraints – to try and reimagine just the subset of “Smileys” with a buoy theme (a “Buoymoji” play on words).

I did learn a lot about options for using symbols so that I could quickly swap and share common elements like sets of eyes, and even how to set the base buoy shape so that I could very quickly create sets that could be different colorways (ex. yellow, blue, pink, white, green buoy families). I even went and grabbed the domain and still have that.

Buoymojis App Banner with winking emoji by James Young

It was also a good opportunity to learn about the other types of assets needed to post Sticker packs, like an ‘app banner’ shown above.

Buoymoji Smiling Face with Sunglasses by James Young - pinkI experimented with referencing contemporary events in the the icon set. For example, Snap had recently come out with their first version of Spectacles so I have the sunglasses emoji wearing them. Overall it was a fun project that I may consider picking back up at some point. Thanks for looking, “Fair winds and following seas”!