All Hail the Fail Whale!

Twitter users hate it when the server is down. The popular social networking site is often over capacity, which can be like drug withdrawal for hardcore users. But the image you see when Twitter is down brings out the smiles. Everyone loves the Fail Whale!

(image: NathanaelB)

It's an inspired use of art. Take a bad situation (interruption of service) and lighten the mood with a whimsical distraction (fail whale). In this simple design, you can see an entire story. It's a whale of a tale! A huge whale who dreams of flying achieves his goal with the help of his many devoted friends. The smile on his face tells you it really is a dream come true for him. How can you not love that?

And there are lots of ways people show their love for Fail Whale.


Fail Whale was designed by artist Yiying Lu. It wasn't a commissioned work, and Twitter didn't pay her directly or even link to her. She had uploaded it to iStockPhoto, where Twitter found it. It was originally called "Lift a Dreamer," and was created as an ecard for a friend. Yiying Lu gained recognition of her work through the fans of Fail Whale, and she benefits from the sale of merchandise at the official Fail Whale store at Zazzle. You can read the entire story at ReadWriteWeb.


The Fail Whale Fan Club was the driving force behind the recognition of Yiying Li's art. There's also a Fail Whale Facebook Group, Flickr Group, and News Group. The fan club recently held a party, where they drank Fail Whale Pale Ale. Of course.


The Fail Whale store has FW t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, and other items. You can also purchase FW greeting cards and art prints.


Fail Whale's girlfriend is Eve Whale, who declares her love for FW in this design by Yiyang Lu.


Tributes to the design come from all over. Hilary Talbot made this Fail Whale Kinetic Sculpture.


Flickr user emdot embroidered Fail Whale on at least two occasions.


Apelad (Adam Koford) paid tribute to Fail Whale by including him in his Laugh Out Loud Cats comic series.


Flickr user Timothy Greig used FW for a poster apologizing for inconvenience at a library in New Zealand.


You know you've made it when you see your name (or image) in lights! This tribute to FW showed up on a Peggy (an LED pegboard).


Flickr user SummerTX photographed this FW birthday cake. There are more cakes at the fan club site.


Twitter itself is not above using the whimsical whale in unorthodox ways. When the staff moved to their new offices, a "redirect" sign was posted on the old office door. It wasn't long before they updated it with a slightly more positive message.

What could be next for Fail Whale? Maybe being loved is enough.

Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
This Wall Chart Shows Every Oil Painting Vincent Van Gogh Ever Created

Vincent van Gogh, among other things, was a prolific painter. He created 85 oil paintings of women, 70 of flowers, 42 of wheat fields, and 38 of his own image. The Post-Impressionist master’s nearly 900 oil paintings can now be seen all in one place, thanks to a new wall chart from Curious Charts.

A chart of Van Gogh's paintings
Curious Charts

In this “Visual Taxonomy of Van Gogh,” the painter’s oeuvre is organized into a few categories, like still lifes and landscapes, and further broken down into subcategories such as water and bridges, wheat, and trees. Timothy Sanders, who runs Curious Charts with his wife, Aurélia, said he started out by organizing Van Gogh’s works into categories in an Excel spreadsheet.

“When we had the idea of trying to fit all of Van Gogh’s paintings, which is almost 900 in total, onto a single poster-sized chart, it was really exciting,” he says in the video below. “But as we quickly discovered, there were a lot of challenges.”

Size and spacing were the biggest issues, and the 24-inch-by-36-inch poster took three months to create. There are notations underneath each image specifying the title of the work and the year it was painted.

The Sanders duo is raising funds for the project via Kickstarter, and so far they've raised nearly $1500 of their $2000 goal. The fundraising campaign ends June 14.

Scroll down to see more photos of the chart, plus a video showing how it was made.

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts


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