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“Michelle Lehmann”, aka “Mirz” or “Mirz123” (pronounced "meer-ez"),[1] is an American artist creating smilies in a variety of styles using Paint Shop Pro 6/7/8 and Animation Shop 3. She has recently ventured into doing more complex artwork, as well as venturing into more sophisticated smiley animation. Her specialty is emotes/smileys which are created primarilly for use on forums, blogs and websites, although she does have some smaller creations intended for chat use.

Mirz123-Ignore the Troll.gif Mirz123-Labor Pains.gif Mirz123-Autism Flapping.gif Mirz123-Face Palm.gif Mirz123-Robin and Marian Aniv Present.gif


Michelle has been a webmaster on various sites for over 10 years and has been pixel-arting for more than 7 years. A novelist at heart, she started doing computer art when she couldn’t find graphics she needed for her various websites. She found that she particularly loved creating images in a small amount of space, and thus took up creating smilies for use on those sites.[2] Though she now predominantly does smiley-art, her love of pixel art originally came from admiring the work of country-style pixel artists. She often supported these artists by purchasing their works for her websites and then began making her own graphics when she was unable to find particular pieces.[3]

Mirz123-Weight of the World.gif Mirz123-Chicken Soup.gif Mirz123-Cab Stop.png Mirz123-Conga Rats Updated.gif Mirz123-The Steins Balloons.gif

Smiley Offerings

Michelle has created hundreds of smilies over the years, some which have not yet been posted for public viewing. Those that have been posted can be found at deviantART, SmileyGenerator.us, and her personal gallery on SpecialSmilies.com. She tries to keep wide-usage in mind, rather than site-specific, so that they can be used and enjoyed by a variety of people. And as the mother of a large family, she creates only family-friendly smilies.

Mirz123-The Writing on the Wall.gif Mirz123-Script Monkeys.gif Mirz123-Coffee Dance.gif Mirz123-Talk like a Pirate Ninja.gif Mirz123-Holy Cricket.gif

Smiley Style

Mirz123 began creating mainly “emote” style smilies, but has recently begun creating the larger yellow “smiley” types as well. Her works can be very complex in their execution, with a fine attention to details and timing, but appear deceptively simple.

Mirz likes to try different things, ofttimes mix-and-matching styles, and uses whatever works best for the particular piece she’s working on. She has received comments that her works are perplexing because she blurs the lines between emote and smiley. While she doesn’t have a specific shading style, she does consistently work with “softer” palettes, as she feels it is important for users to easily make out the facial features of her smilies.[3]

Mirz123-Undecided Smiley Version.gif Mirz123-Undecided.gif Mirz123-Tea Party.gif Mirz123-Agree to Disagree Emote.gif Mirz123-Cheating Death.gif

Other Art

Michelle creates a wide variety of pixel art ranging from her emote-filled children’s classic tales and movie posters, to banners and logos, to complete skins and website design. In partnership with her husband, she produces a family-friendly webcomic called “Bitmap World”, which relates the adventures of a family of smileys living on a computer server. The art is done with actual smileys and pixel-art, and the stories cover a wide range of topics, from family and work issues, to gaming, to superheros.[4] In order to keep the comic wholly pixel art, she has even created her own pixel fonts for use in the strip.

Mirz123-Sept 11 Memory Sign.png Mirz123-Surfing the Web IE Version.gif Mirz123-Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe.png Mirz123-Mystery Men Emote Movie Poster.png Mirz123-Lemmings.gif

Inspiration and the Future

Mirz123 says that her main source of inspiration is Mazeguy, whose works made her want to better her own smilie skills. She was so taken with his work that she asked and received permission to use his smilies in her webcomic. For individual smilies, she relies on day-to-day life: things her children do/say, odd phrases overheard, and interactions with the people around her.

Michelle hopes to continue creating smilies well into the future. Being a bit old-school, she doesn’t find much allure in high-tech emotes and sees herself sticking to pixelated smilies and continuing to focus on the type of art she has been doing. She hopes to have the opportunity to work with other smiley artists on pixel projects.[3]

Mirz123-Emote Kids Photoshoot.gif

Mirz123’s Web Presence

Mirz123 has a strong presence on deviantART, where she not only has a large gallery of her works, but in conjunction with fellow artist Emotikonz, hosts a club called the Pixel Academy, a group created to provide support to those just beginning to create pixel art, emoticons and smilies. In addition to Bitmap World, Michelle and her husband host the webcomic directory and rating site, FamilyWebComics.com.

Notes and References

  1. ^ "The ABCs of Deviants:Mirz123." deviantART interview.
  2. ^ Bitmap World, “About the Artists/Writers”
  3. ^ a b c Email interview, November 24, 2009
  4. ^ Xcentriks Interview October 20, 2009

Article Information

Article Information
Author: BradLee
Date Published: Article has not been published yet
Other Contributors: Ravenswd
Last Modified: August 25, 2019

*** This article has been approved by the referenced artist ***