Meet The Accidental Designer Of The GitHub And Twitter Logos

Meet The Accidental Designer Of The GitHub And Twitter Logos



Simon Oxley was drinking beer and watching TV on his couch (like any good freelancer) when he noticed that a hot new startup called Twitter was using his art as a logo. At first, he thought he was drunk. “I checked the label on the beer I was drinking and called my wife to come see,” he says. “It was a total, surreal surprise.”

Oxley, who is British-born and Tokyo-based, was (and is) a freelance contributor to iStockphoto, one of the web’s most popular resources for stock photos and illustrations. He originally joined the service because Adobe Creative Suite came with a free membership. But since then, he’s become a power user, uploading almost 10,000 images and selling 100,000. He was even asked to design iStockphoto’s own logo, in 2009.

His biggest sales, though, have been from startups like Twitter, who paid “a relatively small amount of money” for a library of images including the bird and the robot, which still appears when you visit a broken link. The tweeting bird has since been replaced by a succession of avian variations, but thanks to the long memory of the Internet, it resurfaces every now and then. “It always makes me laugh when I still see organizations using my bird to link to their Twitter feed,” Oxley says. “Thank you!”

Shortly after his name emerged as the designer of Twitter’s original mark, Oxley was approached by GitHub, the open source code community. They purchased a package of graphics from Oxley’s stock library as well, including their Octocat logo, for a flat fee. As you might imagine, the GitHub community remakes the logo on a regular basis: there arehundreds of iterations, including a Homer Simpson version, a Shepard Fairey version, and–predictably–a Nyan Cat version.That kind of adaptability is a direct symptom of the iStockphoto model, which lets buyers do what they want with purchased images. “Once I submit images to stock collections, I lose control over how folks use them,” he explains. Which requires a completely different mindset than the average graphic designer–but Oxley enjoys watching his work develop a life of its own on the Internet. “It can grate, but it’s allowed me to broadcast to a far larger audience than I could have single handedly appealed to, so I am grateful for people downloading my stuff and enjoy continuing to produce more.”

His success as a stock graphic artist has led to a number of unusual projects. For example, this year he travelled to Russia to work on, a video-based social networking site that will launch in the next few weeks. He’s also frequently retained to draw characters and mascots for Japanese sites–so often, in fact, that he’s currently represented by Sony in Japan. In some ways, Oxley is the most famous designer you’ve never heard of–and his anonymity is increasingly common. As companies get leaner, flat-rate fees and work on spec are becoming the norm. “I suppose when anyone uses the Internet to broadcast there’s a sense of ‘be careful what you wish for,’” Oxley adds. “[I] just hope to never lose the fundamental enjoyment of drawing while appreciating any positive recognition from the wider world.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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