It’s hard not to love an emoji app with a change log like this: “Updated to incorporate a sobbing toddler emoji painted in 1670 by Jan Steen, graciously furnished by The Mauritshuis in The Hague.” But that’s the awesomeness of the Rejoinders in a nutshell. It’s a $0.99 iMessage sticker pack that repurposes the bucolic, dour, phlegmatic, or downright bilious visages of people painted during the Dutch Renaissance as hilarious emojis perfect for use in emails and text messages.
Created by Molly Young, a copy director at Warby Parker, and Teddy Blanks of Brooklyn-based design studio Chips, Rejoinders is made up of 40 faces, plucked from paintings by old Dutch masters like Bruegel, Steen, Vermeer, and more. For the most part, the emoji seem like they’d be most at home on the perturbed end of the emoji spectrum, in place of old favorites like the grimacing or neutral smiley. However, there are Rejoinder stickers appropriate for more joyful moments, including the Mephistophelean visage of a laughing baby, face utterly deformed by malevolence.
Speaking to Quartz, Young says it was this baby’s face which actually inspired her to make Rejoinders. She discovered it in a painting on auction at Sotheby’s, which she eventually was able to buy. “I totally understand this man, with his mischievous grin,” she says. “His rotting teeth.” Soon after, Quartz explains, she was using the rotten-toothed visage in office communication. What began as an instinct to troll soon became one of the App Store’s best-selling iMessage apps.
Rejoinders is available on the App Store for $0.99. What better way to both educate yourself on the Dutch masters, while simultaneously perplexing, amusing, and horrifying everyone you know?