Twitter ‘Fail Whale’ Creator Reinvents Wall Art

Meets Obsession Magazine F/W 2011 Issue / September 6, 2011

Twitter ‘Fail Whale’ Creator Reinvents Wall ArtThe moment words escaped Yiying Lu’s lips, her genteel charm and wonderful orchestration of words captivated me.


Her drawl, an unusual mix of Shanghai meets Sydney, is just about the most charming accent I ever have heard.

“I’m sort of a mixture of international cities,” she laughs. “It’s more fun to travel. You’re able to see a lot of new things you never saw before.”

Lu, while bashful about her success, has built her career on the idea of combining beauty, iconic images and international sights to recreate them into creative designs. For Lu, sight, tangibility, and aesthetics are core elements she embraces in her work.

While referring to herself as a designer rather than a “pure artist,” Lu has created some of the most recognizable 2D illustrations on the Internet.

Lu is a co-founding member of the revolutionary wall graphics website, WALLS 360 that was launched last December. Her resume also includes the creation of Twitter’s pop-culture iconic “Fail Whale” image, as well as the lesser known, but equally entertaining Conan O’Brien “Pale Whale.” Currently working with the late night funnyman, O’Brien, on an undisclosed project, Lu kept mum about the details but went on to described O’Brien as “really great.”

Although Lu’s designs generally are simple, she is fascinated with the idea that things are not always what they seem. “My interest is creating art that is new, combining new ideas – thinking laterally.”

This lateral thinking is what inspired her to co-found WALLS 360 where she recreates iconic images and designs them as wall art that can be purchased on the website. “WALLS 360 give wings to the art, it enables the art to fly everywhere,” Lu says proudly, as this innovative concept has brought the world’s most recognized illustrations into the homes of art enthusiasts worldwide. To Lu, walls are the best canvases to display art.

WALLS 360 creates large-format, repositionable wall graphics for artists, designers, and brands globally by creating ready-to-use wall art made out of self-adhesive fabric paper.

Her dedicated approach to progressive art is the driving force behind her success. “If you work hard and be kind, amazing things will happen,” she said, echoing a quote from O’Brien that she had displayed on her mantel. It is clear, through her bright disposition and true passion for all things creative and artistic that she has taken these words to heart.

Lu explains that her unique take on the world helps her drawn inspiration from everywhere such as the graffiti on a dilapidated wall or on the skin of a watermelon.

Although Lu has built her business with art illustrations, she has other surprising aspirations. “I’m obsessed with broaches!” she said. “I would love to start my own line of jewelry because it’s so versatile.” Lu also went on to say about other future projects, “I’m tired of consumption! Now it’s about contribution, I want to touch people’s hearts.”

While some people may mention philanthropy to impress others, Lu’s affirmation and sincerity shows that she means what she says. It is, perhaps, this frame of mind that allows her to create and distribute art that keeps her riding the wave of success.


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Saron Olkaba
Saron Olkaba
Saron is a writer and student born in Ethiopia and raised in Washington, DC. She is incapable of keeping a phone for longer than a few months, exclusively wears Miss. Dior Cherie, and her guilty pleasures include any novel written by V.C. Andrews (don’t judge), Essie’s “Little Brown Dress", and Stoli. She is currently obsessed with the poetry of Edmund Wilson and The Arctic Monkey’s latest album “AM”.




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Twitter ‘Fail Whale’ Creator Reinvents Wall Art