A dirty manicure by Sarah Dahlinger, green fingers with long pink nails getting dirt in the nail beds from a nail polish brush. Text reads: DIRTY SIGNS


Even though dirt is where our food comes from, is where our bodies get buried when we die, and is literally everywhere we go, it is not represented yet in the emoji universe. Somehow we have emojis for unicorns, pufferfish, poodles and Santa Claus, but not dirt! Dirty Time is planning to try to correct this oversight and will be submitting a proposal for a dirt emoji to the Unicode foundation in 2024.

Help us solve the predicament of the absent dirt emoji, think creatively and loosely about what this emoji might look like and then narrow in on suggestions that fulfill Unicode’s requirements for new emoji proposals. Get digging or use the prompts below to get excited.

What are your favorite emojis? The ones you use the most?

Which emojis do you think do a really good job of expressing the things that they express? (For example, I might say the “mind blown” emoji or the sun emoji.)

Pick one of the emojis that you listed above and describe why you think it works so well. (For example, the emoji for the sun doesn’t look like the sun in the sky–it has a face!–but it looks like the sun in a lot of children's cartoons and books. And like the sun on the box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal. These images are familiar enough to feel immediately like the “right” way to emojify the sun.)

Using the same logic that you used in answering question three, if you had to make a new emoji, one for something that doesn’t have one yet, what qualities would it need to have to feel like the “right” emoji for the thing? (For example, I might say, an emoji has to feel like a familiar way to express something, and maybe a little playful or childlike–not too realistic but not too abstract either.)

How do those qualities translate into design qualities in emojis? (For example, I might say rounded edges and bright colors feel childlike to me, friendliness and simplicity feels important…)

If there was an emoji for dirt, what do you think are the important qualities of dirt that would need to come across through that emoji?

How would you represent dirt as an emoji? Use your card or download and print this grid template.

Unicode Guidelines for submitting Images must be in PNG format with dimensions of 18×18 and 72×72 pixels. The image should extend to the sides of the cell (no extra padding). The background of the image should be transparent. Black&white images must be suitable for fonts. Grayscale is not acceptable.

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Dirty Time is: Hey There Kapplow, savorer of juices. Walker Tufts, planter of faces.

Dirty Time logo font by Be Oakely, based on hand-lettered protest signs by HUGOGYRL