Introducing the WP Tavern Wapuu

The Wapuu craze has spread far and wide. From its origin in Japan, to WordCamp London, and across the US, Wapuu has become quite the traveler. While the mascot has mostly represented WordCamps, site owners are creating a custom version of the mascot to represent their sites.

Michelle Schulp, a graphic designer who runs Marktimemedia, has created a number of Wapuu’s for WordCamps and websites. She was gracious enough to create one specifically for the Tavern.

WP Tavern Wapuu
WP Tavern Wapuu

Schulp created the mascot with Adobe Illustrator using the original .svg files provided on the original Wapuu Github repository. She doesn’t plan on writing tutorials to modify the base Wapuu. Instead, she is creating a base Wapuu that will have separated pieces so its easier to modify.

She often sketches and re-draws Wapuus that are not in their normal position.

“Actually, most of the Wapuus are slightly modified to make it easier for them to hold or interact with their elements. I thought of him like a cartoon character (fluid) more so than a logo or icon (rigid),” Schulp told the Tavern.

Schulp has always had an interest in sketching cartoons. For WordCamp Miami 2015, she created a variety of custom-made My Little Pony stickers.

My Little Pony Stickers
My Little Pony Stickers

She also uses her skills to create unique slide decks filled with colorful illustrations.

Custom Slide Deck
Custom Slide Deck

From WordCamps to Websites and Eventually Companies

Wapuu is considered the official mascot character of WordPress and was designed by Kazuko Kaneuchi in 2011. It’s distributed under the GPLv2 or later and can be modified by anyone. The character is used to represent different cultures and regions of the world.

Now that Wapuu is showing up as a mascot for sites that focus on WordPress, the question is, when will it be used to represent companies in the WordPress ecosystem?

Shortly after Automattic acquired WooThemes, Nick Hamze was criticized on the Advanced WordPress Facebook group for creating a Wapuu dressed up like a ninja.

If the graphic was created by WooThemes and independently of the acquisition I’d think oh cute, WooTheme’s mascot is teaching WordPress’ mascot how to be a ninja, best friends forever for sure.

Instead, it came from an Automattician and in the context of Automattic acquiring WooThemes, to me it reads that Automattic is using Wapuu, which just bugs me.

At WordCamp Miami 2015, Rocketgenius came under fire for creating swag that features Wapuu wearing a space suit with a rocket patch on its arm.

This is what the swag looks like. The logo is subtle in nature and if you didn’t already know it represents Rocketgenius, it would fit naturally into the design.

Space Wapuu With Rocket Patch
Space Wapuu With Rocket Patch

It’s important to note that there are no rules in how Wapuu can be used. The only guideline is maintaining Kaneuchi’s copyright. The mascot has appeared on physical products such as nails, cakes, and stuffed animals.

photo credit:  Naoko Takano - Learnings from Growing Local WordPress Communities
photo credit:
Naoko Takano – Learnings from Growing Local WordPress Communities

Schulp says she plans to create more Wapuus when the inspiration strikes. “I like to imagine Wapuu in a ton of different circumstances and my plan is to create more slice of life Wapuus as the inspiration strikes, maybe similar to how you can express things with Facebook stickers.”

“Though Wapuu is open source and we can all use him and I’ve got good intentions, he isn’t mine so I’ll always defer to and respect the community that created it.”

Community Protection

The use of Wapuu is open for interpretation but I don’t see a problem with companies participating in the craze and creating one of their own. Unlike the WordPress logo, which is trademarked, Wapuu is free of such restrictions meaning anyone can use it for anything, including commercial endeavors.

The community needs to protect Wapuu from enterprises that want to claim it as their own. We must respect its origins and give credit where credit is due. Other than that, the more Wapuus the better!


20 responses to “Introducing the WP Tavern Wapuu”

  1. If it’s a WordPress oriented company, project or subject matter I don’t see how anyone could cry foul.

    Sure it could be abused and a WordPress orient company could design their entire branding around Wapuu and make it appear as if it is their branding and mascot. But that hasn’t been the case with how he’s been used by us, or anyone in the WordPress community that I have seen.

    It’s a bit like crying foul for selling a plugin or theme when it is GPL. Wapuu is GPL and all of these uses are well within the license the design was released under.

    All the custom Wapuu’s I’ve seen have been fun, good natured and designed to put a smile on people’s faces.

    In our case we wanted to do something cool with Wapuu for the community that fit with who we are as a company and what our company brand identity and interests have revolved around… space.

    We spent a few thousand dollars on printing a 7 color screen printed t-shirt which featured noting else but the space Wapuu you see in the article above. Purely to give the attendees of WordCamp Miami something they’d enjoy that also promotes WordPress.

    We thought the WordCamp Miami attendees would get a kick out of Wapuu, in a space suit, hugging the moon which promotes WordPress. We were right. The t-shirts and stickers flew off the table in minutes.

    If it’s promoting WordPress or something that is WordPress related, even if it it incorporates a brand logo other than WordPress itself, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Ultimately it’s promoting WordPress. Even if it’s a WPTavern logo, PostStatus logo, or WooNinja costume he’s wearing. It’s still all about WordPress.

    Some people need to lighten up, and smile.

    • Totally agree. As a WCMIA attendee, I was actively searching for a shirt. It was the hot swag item. People want to cry foul? Should I call them a wambulance?

      • Thanks Devin! The shirts were a big hit… we should have printed more but we had them created on short notice so didn’t have time. We’ll definitely be getting more shirts made for future events.

  2. Hello

    Since Wapuu contains the W logo from WordPress, can we really create and sell stuff (mugs, shirts, pens, stickers) with a Wapuu?
    If yes, what about creating a heart shaped logo containing a W from WordPress, can we do the same?

  3. What about a medieval sage Wampu pouring over a long lost volume of forgotten lore? Something I could incorporate into my logo?

  4. That block quote in the middle of this article beginning “If the graphic was created by WooThemes…” isn’t attributed, but it was me who wrote it in AWP and it was intended to spark a conversation.

    I do personally think of Wapuu as the mascot for the community and project and it does bug me a little to see Wapuu being used to represent commercial entities. I don’t however think it’s “wrong” or a “violation” of any laws or rules to use Wapuu in any context and my “being bugged” by commercial use of Wapuu has faded considerably based on the discussion in AWP that followed that comment.

    I too would have been hunting far and wide for that space suit Wapuu t-shirt…

  5. There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with using the Wapuu for businesses within the WordPress ecosystem, for example Rocketgenius/ Gravity Forms — their plugin is fully GPL, they are engaged within the community and promote open source/ GPL. I wish MORE companies would act like this!

    People from the community who really have a sense what’s going on won’t do wrong with the use of Wapuu, I believe. We should have a little bit more confidence and not always doubt in such things — and please, not more rules/ regulations in regard of this whole thing…! :-)

    • Hello David, Since Wapuu contains the W logo from WordPress, can we really create and sell stuff (mugs, shirts, pens, stickers) with a Wapuu?
      If yes, what about creating a heart shaped logo containing a W from WordPress, can we do the same?

        • That’s kind of what I figured, if we’re gonna be creating any non-WordCamp Wapuus (since WordCamps are allowed to use the W) we probably have to not use the W, at least if the drawing will be for sale or for anything outside of innocent fan art. :)

        • “Hello David, Since Wapuu contains the W logo from WordPress, can we really create and sell stuff (mugs, shirts, pens, stickers) with a Wapuu?”

          That was my concern with creating the Wapuu that we created for WordCamp Miami.

          However, the difference was the design wasn’t used to create a design for a t-shirt that we were selling. The t-shirts were created to promote WordPress and we spent a considerable amount of money (several thousand dollars for 7 color screen printed shirts and stickers) and freely gave them out at WordCamp Miami.

          They were given away for free to WordCamp Miami attendees (at least the attendees who managed to snag one before they were all gone, which happened very quickly) and didn’t have any in your face branding that identified them as being Gravity Forms related. No mention of Gravity Forms, no URL, simply what you see in the photos provided in the WPTavern post above is what the swag consisted of.

          Yes, there is the Rocketgenius rocket emblem on his space suit. We wanted to put a patch and thought it fit. Unless you know it’s part of our Rocketgenius logo you’d just assume it was a generic space related patch on a space suit. Which is precisely why we went with it rather than a Gravity logo which would have been more recognizable as we use the Gravity logo when sponsoring events, etc. We looked at the rocket as a branding easter egg because we pretty much exclusively use our Gravity logo for branding, marketing, advertising and sponsorships.

          The issue of using the WordPress logo did concern me. I dropped you (@Matt) an email about it a day prior to beginning production of shirts and stickers. I know you get an insane amount of email so i’m in no way upset that you didn’t get back to me on it. Because the timeline was so extremely short I had to make a judgement call in order to be able to have the shirts and stickers made prior to WordCamp Miami.

          We spent a lot of money to produce t-shirts and stickers that promoted WordPress with a unique Wapuu and the attendees in Miami loved them.

          The first iteration of our Wapuu did not feature the WordPress logo on the moon and instead had the Gravity Forms logo on the moon. I wanted it to promote WordPress, not Gravity Forms. So we placed the rocket emblem on the space suit as we felt it was unobtrusive and fit with our company passion for all things space related.

          But I do want to make sure what we did is okay. Because we’d love to produce more t-shirts and stickers exactly like those we gave out in Miami because they were such a hit.

          I’d rather not have to change the design. I’d prefer to keep Wapuu hugging the moon with the WordPress logo rather than the Gravity logo.

          Your input on this would be greatly appreciated.

          • I love it :) I wore the shirt for a week through Miami and Georgia and anyone who asked I always said it was a WordPress shirt, not a Gravity Forms shirt. I think it definitely focuses its attention on WP, not Rocket Genius.

  6. That WPTavern Wapuu really is Wapuu perfection. The Post Status one too (I can’t remember where I saw it now) is absolutely ace! I’m not gonna get drawn into whether or not it is a good idea for everyone to have a Wapuu (I don’t think I’ll ever be interested in getting one made for WinningWP for example) but I can’t seem to help but smile when I see new ones appear. :)

    • P.s. I’m already beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get one now and have to eat my words. Lol.


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