One Day with: Julia Heffernan

Julia discusses her love for emoji’s, childhood dream of being Spider Man, and her inspiring pet rabbit, Napoleon Bunnyparte!

This week, we spoke with New York based illustrator and emoji maker, Julia Heffernan. You may not have heard of her name but if you’re a digital nerd, like most of us, then there is a good chance you have seen and/or used her work before. Creating emojis for The Washington Post, Comedy Central, GroupMe, Entertainment Weekly and more!

Hey Julia!

Who are you?

Julia Heffernan!

What do you do?

I am a freelance illustrator and emoji maker

What’s your favorite thing about your city?

I love living in Brooklyn for the community and convenience. It feels a bit more manageable than Manhattan, but still has all the benefits. And there are lots of weirdos just like me :)

What inspires you?

My pet rabbit Napoleon Bunnyparte. And my two nieces, who are super funny and wonderful. I love drawing things that they will like.

Napoleon Bunnyparte

What profession did you imagine for yourself as a child?

What didn’t I imagine I could be as a child? I wanted to be a baseball player, scientist, artist, architect, astronaut, Spider Man, teacher, just to name a few! Drawing has always been a passion of mine, though and I think I knew I had to be in a creative field.

How did that lead to where you are now?

I always loved to draw and I especially liked drawing faces and emotions, which fit nicely with emojis.

The Obama’s by Julia Heffernan

Who was your greatest influence growing up?

Hard to name just one person, I think my whole family was a big influence on me. I have 3 siblings and we are all very close, even now. My parents have always been extremely supportive and are just generally the coolest. My mom is a great artist (although she won’t admit it) and we would draw together a lot when I was little.

When did you realize, you would do what you do?

During my freshman year of college I realized I needed to do something creative (I was studying physics at the time). Then I started doing more illustration and knew I had to do something in that field.

What is the best advice you’ve received and from whom?

I’ve heard this advice from a few different artist friends of mine; never undervalue your work. It is the only way to survive as a full time artist.

What was a defining moment in your career?

I think when the mascot emojis I did for the Washington Post were published in the paper. They were my biggest client at the time by far and while I knew my work was going to be in the paper I didn’t really believe it until I saw my name in print. It was a total rush.

The mascot emojis Julia created for The Washington Post

What excites you in our culture today?

I’m always excited about new technology.

Why do you do what you do?

It makes me happy.

At 85 what do you want to be known for?

I hope to have written and illustrated at least one children’s book.

One of many pattern designs by Julia

You can find all of Julia’s work, emoji’s included, online at, and on Instagram & Twitter.

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