Interchangable Icons

On project reflection I’ve started looking at character development. I felt as though my project was missing something so going back over my research and past projects one theme jumped out at me. Popular culture iconography and the adaptable/ interchangeable nature of transmedia pop icons. Below are the three biggest examples interchangeable icons and unsurprisingly they are all based in Japan.

Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku is a Japanese computer generated pop star. She is the perfect example of a transmedia pop culture icon. Even the use of calling her she, proves just how integrated she is into my world as a real icon. Essentialy Hatsune Miku is a piece of software developed by Crypton Future Media. Everything about her is computer generated, her voice her image and her character. Unlike I first assumed when I saw her she is not voiced by a real person, her essence is the software that created her. She is a millionaire virtual pop icon, and her rein transcends into every platform, music, film, advertising, toys, food, clothes. In regards to this project I call her an interchangable icon. Like a doll her clothes are changed to fit the product, she is plastered on advertisements and products from cars to pizza boxes.

Hatsune Miku’s iconic hair is her recognisable atribute, sometimes it may change colour for a product or a theme but it always remains in the same style.

Hello Kitty

The 60’s version of Hatsune Miku, she is still a global icon today but could be seen as a bit too traditional in comparison to Miku. A different version of a virtual character, she is an icon in her own right and again an interchangeable icon.

Kitty’s face is her recognisable point, it’s key to have something familiar in every adaption so the audience can relate back to the character.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

So what about a real life Interchangeable icon? Keeping in theme with our Japanese girls I present you Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, pop star and trend setter in Japan.

So why Interchangeable?  I use the term interchangeable because it reminds me of the dolls I used to have when I was little, for example you would buy a barbie but she would then have interchangeable outfits, maybe one to make her a rock star another to make her a princess. The interchangeable nature is all about power over the character, you (or companies) control what they look like but only to some extent because you still had to buy into the extensions packs.


M.A.C X Nick Knight continued

I suddenly remembered this advertising campaign I found, and decided to re-look at it. It could be used as one of the consumerism examples of a cute and sexy representation of women.

The image below in particular uses the iconography of hello kitty, cute dickie bows and pink throughout the image. But this is harshly displayed against black latex corsets. And a  bowl of white liquid (strange for a makeup ad) which connotes questionable material. The style of lighting also resembles a cheap singular flash. The kind of lighting used by amateurs which emphasises the colours and makes the image almost trashy. The great thing about this as an example is it’s advertising a Western product via a Western photographer. Much like my already existing example of Nick Knight’s shoot of Brittany Spears is.

Supporting the idea of sex and cute, connoting Otaku culture the models appear at the product launch with a plastic look, and appear to be standing in a giant box. Reflecting the idea of figurines/ barbie.

Photographing my sanctuary

I realised it’s unfair of me to go into someone else’s personal space and photograph it without offering mine first, like in many of our phonar workshops we’ve learnt if you can’t tell your own story people won’t trust you to tell theirs. For a lot of fans their bedroom is their sanctuary, it’s where they interact with the media they love and it’s a private space in which on one can judge you. Here is a few images I’ve taken today, I lost the natural light pretty quickly so will shoot some more tomorrow.

Obviously the way I portray my sanctuary is not how I intend to photograph my final project, these images even use colours which resemble me, so the other images will be influenced by the subjects personality. They will also feature the subjet within in them so will have quite a different, more personal atmosphere.

Babydoll ©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
Wednesday ©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
HK ©Daisy Ware-Jarrett

Creative Commons License
©Daisy Ware-Jarrett

Leslie Holt




Hello Masterpiece
In my most recent “Hello Masterpiece (art appreciation)” series, I juxtapose the character, Hello Kitty, with famous images from art history. The paintings are postcard size, similar to those found in a museum gift shop. The famous paintings become pop culture icons akin to Hello Kitty, and the paintings’ appeal as take home sized objects reinforces their context as commodities in a market. In these paintings Hello Kitty is often taking a tour through art history and dressing up to “match” elements of the famous painting. Hello Kitty becomes a toy version of Cindy Sherman, capable of changing identities by transforming her outer appearance. However, her “toyness” and her obvious overlay on the image disrupt any illusion that she actually fits in the scene of the artwork.

– Leslie Holt

Lady gaga X Hello Kitty

In 2010 Lady Gaga took part in a photoshoot to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 35th Birthday. Photographers Markus Klinko and Indrani shot Gaga in a Hello Kitty stuffed dress and combined the image of 2 of the biggest female icons in Popular Culture.


The power of Sanrio’s branding in regard to Hello Kitty is outstanding.

In the US alone, Hello Kitty has expanded into 4000 stores nation wide with more than 200 Sanrio specific shops. Created as a gift item to be exchanged between families, Hello Kitty now adorns more than 22.000 products across categories and contributes more than half of Sanrio’s USD 1 billion annual sales.

– taken from



Soasig Chamaillard





As you can probably tell from the photographs, Soasig Chamaillard’s work looks at pop culture and relates it to religion. Much in the same way of Pierre et Gilles and David LaChapelle’s work. Mixing iconic figures from religion and transforming them into modern iconic figures comments on today society and the role of products, note that none of the characters depicted are real people, instead products of consumerism that shape pop culture.

Hello Kitty

Perhaps the biggest Pop Culture icon to come out of Japan is Hello Kitty. Founded in the 1970’s you can now buy almost anything with hello kitty’s face on it.

This article “Hello Kitty is the Cats meow” from explains how Hello Kitty is a global phenomenon now.

Hello Kitty is the cat’s meow

By Kelly Carter, USA TODAY

Lisa Loeb at the Hello Kitty store in Times Square earlier this month.

LOS ANGELES — Mariah Carey, Lisa Loeb, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tyra Banks may be grown-up celebrities, but they’re not too old to purr over Hello Kitty.

Popular with little girls since the 1970s, Hello Kitty products are suddenly a hit in Hollywood.

“It’s a very reminiscent ‘Oh’ feeling when I see or buy Hello Kitty things,” says Loeb, 34, a fan since 1976. “It reminds me of my childhood.”

Carey is known to click around in her high heels, carrying her $59 Hello Kitty boombox. On a recent MTV Cribs episode, the songbird showed off the boombox, along with her Hello Kitty hair dryer ($29).

A $15 Hello Kitty sequin bag is popular with Banks, Mandy Moore and members of Destiny’s Child. Christina Aguilera, who wore Hello Kitty jewelry on the cover of Teen People, was recently spotted at Hello Kitty’s Beverly Center store here, snapping up everything from luggage to wastebaskets. On The Tonight Show, she professed her love of Hello Kitty gum to Jay Leno.

Include Gwen Stefani (cell phone case), Jessica Alba (stationery), Parker (T-shirts), Selma Blair (hat, scarf and mittens set), Drew Barrymore (watches and stationery) and Brandy (luggage) among Hello Kitty fans.

Why is the brand — with its cute little white-cat-with-a-bow mascot — such a hit with celebs? Could it be the kitschy Kitty factor?

“Most of us work very hard and we’re very, very busy, so anything that can add a spark of excitement and creativity and fun to mundane things in life is important to us,” says Loeb, whose new album is called Cake & Pie. “You need the small things in life. When you’re sitting on a plane one-third of the time, you want to look at a Hello Kitty pad or paper or a pen. You don’t want to look at something boring.”

Loeb can’t even count how many Hello Kitty items she possesses. For starters, there’s her rice cooker, purses, T-shirts, pens, paper, cell phone holders, boom box, waffle maker, watch, leopard-skin leg warmers and pajamas. “Basically, everything from erasers to underwear,” she says. Her guitar player recently bought her Hello Kitty microphone covers that look like miniature shower caps.

“I have a Hello Kitty coffee maker and I get to see Hello Kitty’s face with little angel wings on it when I’m making coffee in the morning,” says Loeb.

Bill Hensley, who is Western Hemisphere marketing director for Tokyo-based Sanrio Inc., of which Hello Kitty is a subsidiary, likes to think that celebrities are attracted to his brand for the same reason that non-celebrities are.

“Kitty appeals because she’s really cute and we create functional stuff with a fun design,” he says. “We listen to what’s going on in the customer’s lifestyle and make things with Hello Kitty. So whether it’s a teenage girl going to the prom or Tyra Banks going to the MTV Awards, she can carry that fun Hello Kitty sequin purse.”

Obviously this isn’t relevant to photography. However in an episode Americas next top model the models undertook a photo shoot based on the Sanrio character.

The photographer was Anne He and believe it or not is 17.