Don’t Hug me I’m Scared

Let’s file humanizing a notepad and a clock and then becoming a huge fan of those now-humans under “things I didn’t expect to happen to me this week.” Because it did and I wasn’t. An artist on tumblr released creative original designs of two objects from a popular youtube video.

This is the don't hug me I'm scared opening image from the youtube video.

This is the don’t hug me I’m scared opening image from the youtube video.

So about a week ago on tumblr, an artist posted original designs of an anthro clock and notepad. Because of how rad they are, they’ve gained some notoriety and a fan following. I’ve been busy this week and haven’t had much time to do anything, so naturally I’ve been following the progression of this fad pretty closely.

"What have I done." by

“What have I done.” by

 Get creative

The video the designs are based from is called Don’t Hug me I’m Scared. The whole construct is sesame-street style, complete with brightly colored puppets co-existing. The first video features a notepad trying to teach the characters how to be creative, the second a clock teaching them the value and function of time.

Tumblr artist “aishaeneko” posted her designs with the sole comment of “What have I done.” Tags included “#aishas art”, “#dont hug me im scared [dhmis]” and “#i drew this at like 4am the perfect time to get creative.” What came afterwards was a huge response from the tumblr art community: 73 thousand notes on the initial post alone.

The designs have been recreated, redrawn and featured in fanfiction since Aishaneko’s post. The #dhmis tag is full of contributions by the tumblr community accepting and building off the designs. One even popped up on my facebook newsfeed.

I use my hair to express myself

Members of the community have even put together costumes and makeup to dress as the designs. It’s common for posts gathering appropriate wigs to show up on the tag. I wouldn’t be surprised if at my next con I saw a notepad or clock wandering around. (To see more of the costumes, check out the #dhmis cosplay tag, these artists are amazing.)

As mentioned previously, fanfiction exists popularizing a love connection between the notepad and clock. Fan-assumed theories (fan canon) use the tag #padlock to set aside posts for the couple.

Popular fan canon calls the clock Tony and the notepad Paige.

Why this is important

Before tumblr, artists used things like deviantart and oekaki forums to publicize art. If you weren’t an artist, you probably wouldn’t know about either. This causes a separation between the artist community and the audience.

The format of tumblr is a mix between social networking, image sharing and blogging. This is ideal for artists to submit quick art or final projects. It’s easy to follow many artists and ideas at once. You don’t have to be an artist to stumble across an artist’s tumblr.

by Hieislittlekitsune on deviantart

by Hieislittlekitsune on deviantart

Artists who redrew the designs early have the opportunity for a mass exposure. In the span of two days on deviantart, user Hieislittlekitsune (HLK) published a piece of notepad and it reached 127 favourites (and 385 tumblr notes). Artists like hlk do commissions; fanart like the notepad piece attracts new people to look through her gallery.

The feedback is immediate – an artist can post an original design and gain fans before thinking twice about it. The attention isn’t left on tumblr, users take to google to learn more about the topic and post to deviantart, facebook and pinterest. Google trends show the searches for “don’t hug me I’m scared” have gone up 100x from what they were a week ago.

So who benefits from this one original design gone viral? The people who made the original video, fan artists, and spectators.


I had to do mock layouts for one of my classes, so I decided to feature some Don’t Hug me I’m Scared fanart. This is originally some kind of Marie Claire work and fashion layout. I liked the way the columns were divided and decided I must make it my own. Placing images is always a challenge in page layout.

art by,,,

art by,,, Link leads to interactive pdf.

Artists featured:


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