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!

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