To Twitter-philes, Yiying Lu isn't a household name, but she should be. She is the creator of the omnipresent "FailWhale," a lovely illustration of a whale being lifted and carried by birds. Twitter chose to use this illustration when the service was unavailable or overloaded, and as such it gained the nickname of the FailWhale.
From the story:
You probably thought that Twitter was using designs they paid for, right? Well, apparently that was not the case. The designer behind the Fail Whale, Yiying Lu, had posted the image to the stock photo web site, iStockPhoto. (She has now removed the original link). Although the image of the Fail Whale was widely known, the designer herself was not. Tom Limongello decided to change that.
Tom had once made himself a Fail Whale t-shirt from a screenshot which he wore at a Mashable party. Of course, the shirt was a huge hit. But Tom couldn't really post the shirts for sale because he didn't have rights to the design. Yet, here was an entire community of Fail Whale fans - many of which who had gathered at failwhale.com - who wanted a shirt of their own.
But then Tom met the designer Yiying Lu when her iStockPhoto link was tweeted to the @FailWhale Twitter user from Twitterer @emmastory. The Fail Whale project (@FailWhale, failwhale.com) is a community effort created by Sean O'Steen, (@seanostee) whose mission was to create a brand from the Fail Whale phenomenon. Sean is responsible for the Fail Whale web site and the Twitter profile, but the name "Fail Whale" itself was coined by Nick Quarantino.