Hi guys :)

I’m Penny, 22, living in Australia. Early last year while struggling through my university degree, I created this account as a novelty account, inspired by the work of both /u/Shitty_Watercolour and /u/Poem_for_your_sprog (both very lovely people, by the way!). Mostly I wanted to do something nice and encouraging for people, when the world is mostly the opposite of that.

Through the support of my friends and family and the amazing people on the internet, this project has exploded further than my wildest dreams could ever have imagined, beyond the realms of the internet and creating a whole lot of real-world opportunities. The second self-published coffee-table style book (a collection of giraffes) is available from today, and illustrating has now somehow become my main source of income. I’ve just graduated and, for the moment, am pursuing this as a full time project.

Proof: https://twitter.com/motivating_g/status/668893906642169856

The new book: https://www.etsy.com/listing/256629670/preorder-motivating-giraffe-book-2015

Reddit’s Upvoted podcast: https://soundcloud.com/upvoted/018-the-longest-way-round-is-the-shortest-way-home

The subreddit with all of the giraffes: /r/motivatinggiraffe

Ask me anything about illustrating, giraffes, self-publishing, my overuse of smiley faces, or anything else!

Edit: I'm really sorry but I can't respond to requests at the moment, I'm pretty busy packaging books etc while answering questions - but thank you!!

Comments: 236 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

smokebreak69 karma

Are geraffes really as dumb as people say they are?

motivatinggiraffe90 karma

No they're smart, I promise!

Although I did visit the zoo earlier this year and watched a herd of giraffes lick a dry tree for twenty minutes. Hmmm.

kaliforniamike49 karma

Okay but who was dumber the giraffe licking the tree or you watching the giraffe licking the tree?

motivatinggiraffe51 karma

Hahaha very good point. They were probably thinking, I wonder how long we can make this dumb human stand here looking at us.

A-Shitty-Doctor50 karma

What has been your best moment on Reddit? The one where you felt you really made a difference.

motivatinggiraffe115 karma

There was an AskReddit thread about things that had saved peoples lives. Somebody said that one of my pictures had stopped them from committing suicide. That was pretty heavy, and huge. One person, one stranger can actually make a difference. That was a really special moment.

sstarr31 karma

Hello! Thank you for sharing giraffe with the world; your drawings are great and seeing them pop up in my Twitter feed never fails to brighten my day :)

So far pig has been a regular supporting character and turtle pops up occasionally too – are there any other characters you plan to introduce?

motivatinggiraffe23 karma

Thank you! :)

I'd love to introduce some more characters but am a bit stuck on what kind of role they would play. Any ideas??

remotectrl18 karma

Oh man, let's start brainstorming the supporting characters!

  • Melancholic manatee
  • Disingenuous iguana
  • Philanthropic Gorilla
  • Sedentary Tapir
  • Chaotic Neutral coyote
  • Compulsive squirrel
  • Kinky squid
  • Misogynistic lion
  • Feminist hyena
  • Altruistic vampire bat
  • Unhygienic trash panda
  • Sadistic orca
  • Overbearing elephant
  • Short-sighted rhino
  • Masochistic otter
  • Cane toad who is questioning their sexuality
  • Terrible koala

The74028 karma

Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat, Ku Klux Klam...

motivatinggiraffe30 karma

Ku Klux Klam hahahaha thank you

Iyamnotdead22 karma

Can I be a voice actor when you get your tv show? :)

motivatinggiraffe25 karma

Sure, you're hired!

jaggazz21 karma

Hi Penny, are there ever any novelty account meetups where you, /u/shitty_watercolour, /u/poem_for_your_Sprog, /u/AWildSketchAppeared, /u/POLITE_ALL_CAPS_GUY, /u/Etch_A_Sketcher and /u/I_COLORED_IT_FOR_YOU all get together and drink beer? If that did take place, who be most likely to pick up the tab?

motivatinggiraffe23 karma

We'd invite you and make you pay ;) cheers jaggazz, so kind!!!

challenge418 karma

Hi friend! There seems to be a boom of content creators (or content aggregators) that have had success through the distribution of their work on reddit. What are some of your favorite users on reddit that others might not be familiar with?

and was there a singular moment when you thought, "Um this could be my life?"

motivatinggiraffe18 karma

Other than shitty and sprog, /u/thepeoplesbard does some awesome work!

Probably when I was approached by an ABC journalist for a story. That was crazy, and cool.

FoieyMcfoie15 karma

What is your favorite giraffe fact?

Also if I were a giraffe, what would I look like?

Also if you were a giraffe, what would you look like?

motivatinggiraffe43 karma

Giraffes eat like 35kgs of leaves a day. A DAY. Where do they find all these leaves?!? I love it.

Me as a giraffe

You as a giraffe

IAMAVelociraptorAMA14 karma

I'm not your secret santa, but if I were, what would you want me to get you?


motivatinggiraffe17 karma

Haha very subtle :P are you asking for a 'friend'?

I love giraffes obviously and anything cute animal related. Artsy things are great, also inspirational things (I have about twenty thousand books full of inspirational quotes and I love them).

IAMAVelociraptorAMA13 karma

I know you better than I thought, I was totally on the mark for all of this.

(I really am asking for a friend, they were super nervous about disappointing you. I thought it was cute but also mildly distressing so I'm trying to help out~)

motivatinggiraffe12 karma

Aww they could never disappoint me :) unless they sent me like a bag of poop.

Ucantalas7 karma

But what if it's cute, artsy giraffe poop?

motivatinggiraffe5 karma

Hmmmmm still pushing it :P

Simon_Draws13 karma

Penny, if I drop everything and fly halfway around the world to meet you, when can we get married? ♥

I'm not in a drawing mood, but here are some of my favorite reposts for you: http://i.imgur.com/vk3ICom.jpg http://i.imgur.com/k31TdSh.jpg http://i.imgur.com/UWdQ1dW.jpg http://i.imgur.com/rmcpPLq.jpg http://i.imgur.com/q1Lwfx0.jpg

motivatinggiraffe13 karma

Beautiful work Simon. And in Australia you need to have a marriage license for 30 days before you get married....so 31 days <3

MetropolitanVanuatu12 karma

Hi Penny! Three questions:

  1. Did you draw giraffes before starting to do so on reddit?

  2. What's your degree in, and would you be happy entering a related profession if illustrating doesn't work out for some reason?

  3. Can you draw me a giraffe encouraging me to do my research and get off reddit?

motivatinggiraffe32 karma


  1. I only started drawing when I started the account! I took art in high school until about grade 10, when I gave up because I was so terrible. Looking back at earlier giraffes, I don't know how so many people liked them haha! But am very grateful they did.

  2. I'm graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Development, with an extra diploma in Global Issues. My plan for the next year is to focus on Motivating Giraffe and illustration, and if it doesn't work out by the end of the year I'll definitely try to get a job related to my degree.

  3. I even signed it for you!!! Haha sorry my pens are upstairs ;)

PermTrouble11 karma

How many hours have you put into Fallout 4?

motivatinggiraffe16 karma

None! I am too scared that if I buy it the world will never see me again.

ggg73010 karma

Why are you so pretty?

motivatinggiraffe12 karma

I photoshop in my teeth and photoshop out my moustache :(

-rabid-10 karma

How horrible is this weather right now?

motivatinggiraffe9 karma

It is disgusting. I wish it would rain. Erughhh.

-rabid-4 karma

It did rain, that's partly why it's so humid, because the sun evaporated all the rain.

motivatinggiraffe10 karma

You predicted that. You should be a meteorologist.

-rabid-3 karma

Predicted nothing, I've lived here for 26 years, I know how the weather here works :P

IBiteYou10 karma


motivatinggiraffe11 karma


phedre9 karma

What's the last thing you licked?

motivatinggiraffe15 karma

I had some ice cream last night! Ultra triple chocolate, soooo good.

preggit9 karma

I've seen giraffes fighting with their necks but do they ever intertwine them and kiss? Asking for a friend.

motivatinggiraffe8 karma

Bahaha a friend hey preg. No I think they only so it when they're fighting!

AdseyV8 karma

Link your absolute favoritest picture?

motivatinggiraffe14 karma

Ohhh that's a good question. Ask me tomorrow and I'll probably say something else, but I love this one. Do you ever just go outside in the late afternoon, sit in the grass and just breathe? This one gives me that feeling. Its a good feeling.

ratkutti8 karma

Hello giraffe,

Do you have an Instagram? I mean not your personal but the motivating giraffe one.

motivatinggiraffe9 karma

Sure do :) @motivating_giraffe

SATXreddit8 karma

Ok so my last comment was auto deleted because I didn't ask a question. So let me try this again. Do you know how thankful I am for always putting a smile on my face whenever I see your art work? It's like I JUST can't help but smile!!! Thank you!

motivatinggiraffe6 karma

Aw you are so sweet, thank you so much!!! :)

Hedgehogs4Me7 karma

Hi Penny, I'm a huge fan of yours, especially some of your most recent works - one of my all-time favs is the one with all the tally marks carved in the rock next to the words "Bad days I've survived".

With my own depression, one of the big problems I have is not being able to follow through with things I start. So, my question is, how do you find the motivation to keep producing new content at the rate and consistency that you do?

Also, do you ever worry that you'll accidentally make a repeat using an idea that you thought you had just considered before, but instead actually made?

motivatinggiraffe6 karma

Thank you :)

Some days it's just forcing myself to do it. Which is obviously easier said than done. I've thought about quitting a lot, but then I try to just focus on how happy this whole thing has made me, not just the drawing but the beautiful connections I've made with other people all over the world.

I do worry! Most of my pictures and quotes I can somewhat remember doing, but as the number increases I'm sure a few ideas will be pretty similar.

Incomingdessert7 karma

Why giraffes?

motivatinggiraffe17 karma

I honestly have no idea. It was going to be a cat but it turns out I can't draw cats. But giraffes seem happy and gentle, so maybe that's it :)

duckalucka7 karma

Did you ever think about giving up before your big break, and if so, what kept you going?

motivatinggiraffe8 karma

All the time. I never ever saw it as a long term thing, and hate mail can be a pretty cruel thing (thanks to the guy who called me the cancer of Reddit, that was nice!).

I think what kept me going was the beautiful comments from people, mostly on Reddit. I have never experienced such kindness on the internet as I have in the last 18 months.

poophead1127 karma

Hey! I know you've said you started drawing the giraffe to help with your own struggles and put a smile on our faces, but do you get the inspiration from things that are happening in your life at the moment, things your friends or family need to hear, or what? How do you choose what to draw each time?

motivatinggiraffe12 karma

Sometimes its for me - this one I did recently, when I was at a pretty low point. Sometimes it's for friends and family, this one was when one of my closest friends was in a coma.

But a lot of the time I do get stuck, I spend a lot of time looking up different quotes and inspiration on the internet and asking people what they think about particular things, which will generally give me an idea eventually :)

felixtre7 karma

Hi penny!

I am a fan of your work, and think the world needs more people like you. I bought your book and its great. I found about motivating giraffe by the upvoted episode. How was working with the reddit team and Alexis Ohanian? Has that episode helped spread the word of your work?

Keep up the good work!

motivatinggiraffe6 karma


Working with the guys at reddit was a really fun experience actually, the interview itself was very relaxed and funny and they edited out all the bits that made me sound crazy :P It was exciting to see it all come together, and it sure did help to spread the word.

diegojones47 karma

Hi! I've missed seeing you around as well as both the people you inspired you.

Do you think that you will ever keep up this account now that it is famous and tied to the real you? You always brought a smile to my face.

motivatinggiraffe7 karma

Hi! :)

I think I will, although aside from the /r/motivatinggiraffe subreddit I mostly stick to smaller, private subs now. I have an alt account that I use if I want to post or comment that I might not necessarily want tied to my account (nothing dirty haha! but political and local stuff etc).

remotectrl7 karma

Did you know that giraffe tongues feel kind of like slimy washcloths?

motivatinggiraffe9 karma


barryfc7 karma

NO! I missed the AMA! If you happen to see this, I have a question that might have been answered elsewhere/obvious, but I couldn't find it here.

Do the pig, giraffe, and turtle have names?

motivatinggiraffe11 karma

Haha never too late! Pig, Giraffe, and Trevor! :)

Rambo_Brit36 karma

So what bands do you listen to?

What gets you inspired to make your next piece?

What is your favorite movie?

Why 'Stralya and not California?

If your stuff was turned into a cartoon, or even an animated short, would you let me voice one of the minor characters? I could do a turtle voice, or even a hippo voice too. "derpy derp, I'm a turtle. yup." Or "Bark bark, I'm a hippo trying to act like a dog. growl!"

motivatinggiraffe7 karma

I'm a bit of a folk nut, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, The Oh Hellos, Iron & Wine etc.

I get a lot of inspiration from my family and friends, and people on the internet, the things they say and the stories they tell :) other days I just randomly roam through the internet trying to find an idea.

My favourite movie is Titanic. Not even embarrassed.

Stralya is my home :)

And of course you can! The turtle is all yours!

khannie6 karma

Congratulations on making something so awesome. This reminds me I've a book to buy! The calendar is quality!

If you could, would you make a career out of it? Or do you think that might take away some of your enjoyment?

motivatinggiraffe5 karma

Thank you!! I'd love to (at least at this stage) make a career out of it. I'm having so much fun, not just in the drawing but in the awesome interactions I get to have with other people, and the stories I get to hear. Who knows how long it will last, but it'll be exciting to see :)

Iyamnotdead6 karma

Who is your favourite redditor, and why is it /u/-Rabid-?

-rabid-9 karma

Hmmm she's not answering. This is bad.

motivatinggiraffe13 karma

It's /u/-rabid- because he probably can work out where I live and will egg my house if I say someone else :)

black_flag_4ever6 karma

How'd you get to be so cool?

motivatinggiraffe10 karma

One day at a time sunglasses emoji

BigBassBone6 karma

How do you feel about the democritization of publishing in general?

motivatinggiraffe4 karma

I think it's great that anyone can release a book now, but at the same time I guess it also oversaturates (is that a word?) the market and makes it pretty hard for new writers/illustrators to be found unless they have some sort of internet following. I was very lucky to be supported by everyone on Reddit and Facebook.

JamFreeStapler6 karma

What's your optimal giraffe neck length?

It's for science

motivatinggiraffe14 karma

Approximately 12 human necks is optimal.

-rabid-8 karma

How tall are you in necks?

motivatinggiraffe14 karma

I am approximately one giraffe neck.

raziphel6 karma

Hi Penny!

If you could send a copy of your book to one (living) person, who would you choose?

motivatinggiraffe13 karma

Oh that's a good one. Ban Ki Moon, the current UN Secretary General. I have a giant nerd celebrity crush on him, he's great.

katrionatronica5 karma

I'm really excited about how you're doing now!

Are you looking into other illustration projects? Any thoughts on commissions or projects for companies or books? Or any new characters or themes that you're thinking about drawing upon (hehe) personally?

motivatinggiraffe13 karma

Thank you!!

I've been approached privately by a few people for different projects, which is quite cool, and I've been thinking about possibly putting together a children's book. There is also the possibility of a tv/web series but this is in very early stages so can't really say anything more, but very exciting :)

iampakman5 karma

Penny, thank you for all your hard work and awesome posts. As someone who purchased your first book as a gift, I'll be getting the second one for myself!

Now, question- Have you ever had vegemite? What do you think of it?

motivatinggiraffe4 karma

Thank you very much!!

I am a very poor Australian in that I hate vegemite :( I prefer promite, its a little bit less tangy!


What have been the least expected changes in your life as a result of creating Motivating Giraffe?

motivatinggiraffe7 karma

I think the fact that I literally have a whole new direction I am headed in my life. Last year I was so worried about graduation and what I was going to do, looking at all of the possible graduate positions and internships I could apply for.

And then this thing just kind of happened, and art (and mental health) was what I knew I was supposed to do, at least for now. I never thought I would feel this calm about the future after I graduated, that's for sure!

PitchforkEmporium5 karma

Favorite type of bread?

motivatinggiraffe7 karma

Multigrain. Or the one at Subway with the cheese on it. MMmmm.

darthvannah5 karma

Is the giraffe your favorite animal?

motivatinggiraffe10 karma

Second favourite, after puppies :)

Zebidee5 karma

What medium do you use for your art?

motivatinggiraffe5 karma

Pen, pencil and paper mostly. Cheap pencils, copic markers, an the super cheap paper from Kmart. Then I scan and fiddle with photoshop :)

Zebidee3 karma

Ah cool! I thought it was done on a drawing tablet.

motivatinggiraffe3 karma

I do have a tablet! But I'm really bad at it :(

thedisapprovingbear5 karma

Are there any collaborative projects you want to do or are currently doing?

motivatinggiraffe6 karma

I am working with a school at the moment to create some motivating Dragons! Their school mascot. Which has been really fun :) other than that, not really!

Butthole__Pleasures5 karma

Thanks for the awesome book and the custom MG from the Kickstarter.

Do you have any plans to try to get some sort of publishing deal for your material that would see it in bookstores and stuff? I would love to see your work even more widespread.

motivatinggiraffe5 karma

Thanks bp!

No real plans yet, except maybe approaching a few local bookstores to see if they'll stock my book. I'm having fun doing it all myself at the moment, but in the future I might try to see if publishers are interested :)

carmabound5 karma

Will I receive your new book by Christmas? I preordered today.

Thank you for inspiring us with MG & friends, I look forward to seeing your new drawings every day :)

motivatinggiraffe5 karma

I'm sending out the pre orders today and tomorrow, so you'll get it by Christmas :) thanks cb!

DeathisLaughing4 karma

Hi /u/motivatinggiraffe, very much a fan of everything you bring to reddit and just everything you do in general...

Have you ever considered pursuing your long ago ambition of drawing cats in addition to giraffes?

motivatinggiraffe6 karma

I should just totally stop giraffes one day, keep the name but replace it with a cat. And thank you :)

seathdarcstar4 karma

Have you been approached by any greeting card companies? If not, how would you respond to their interest in your work?

motivatinggiraffe6 karma

I haven't, but that would be really cool! It'd be great to see the giraffe on greeting cards.

Rainyday1563 karma

Oh no, I'm so late for this! :( I do have one question though, if you're not too busy.

Of all the people you've ever been attracted to, who do you consider the most beautiful and why? Not simply a look you can casually appreciate, but a real desire to be around someone because of the way they are- romantically I suppose. It's fascinating to me who you might find fascinating, as we're all so fond of you.

In any case, thanks for motivating us. Out of countless possibilities on the internet, r/motivatingiraffe is still my favorite.

motivatinggiraffe3 karma

Never too late! :) And a super interesting question.

I had a 'love at first sight' kind of moment earlier this year, I met this guy at a bar one night who just had the most beautiful soul and was just...I don't know, genuine? We talked about life, and dreams, and God. Someone who isn't just not afraid to talk about big things, but actively wants to...I guess these are people I find beautiful and fascinating.

Rainyday1563 karma

I met this guy at a bar

And just like that, thousands of giraffe-lovers everywhere silently shed a tear.

Well I suppose it won't hurt if I tell you this, seeing as how I'm all the way across the world in an undisclosed location. That, and there's absolutely no way anything I say here will have a real-life impact, save for possibly being a semi-interesting comment from a stranger that you may dwell on for no more than a minute or two if at all.

So-- sometimes I find myself wondering about you. It comes and goes rather sporadically, and always for a few seconds at a time. What you must look like eating ice cream! Or sitting in class. Or drawing your giraffes, and whether or not you stick out your tongue when really concentrating. Sometimes I'll see something on the internet, and think to myself, "I bet Penny would like this!" I also then think that perhaps this is how stalkers are born and freak out for a few moments, followed by reminding myself I really just have innocent, fond feelings for this happy and wonderful person across the globe. Someone that draws these brilliant pictures that always makes me smile.

Of course, wandering thoughts being what they are, every now and then I would let myself daydream a little bit. I have never chased a girl in my entire life. All the romance there ever was for me happened with efforts from both sides of the aisle. However, I imagine if you were somewhere in closer proximity to me I would undoubtedly, unhesitatingly chase you. Well, the idea of chasing someone that may not respond in kind is pretty scary. Quite honestly, even considering the possibility of rejection from you specifically is terrifying. But to hell with it. For someone like you I would try. For the creator of pigs and giraffes (Trevor too!) I would learn to dance, learn to cook your favorite foods, take private guitar lessons and remember how to carry a tune. I'd read lots of complicated books with hopes you may find me interesting. There would even be sewing classes in my future just in case a sock of yours needed repairing. And every morning I'd kill myself running miles and miles, followed by vigorous weight-lifting because doing so, just maybe... you might look at me if only a little.

Now this guy at the bar you met, he must really be something special. At this moment I'm picturing him to be Jesus-esque, with flowing hair and a golden halo 'round his head. He also has a face so ridiculously good-looking that straight men are immediately turned gay in his presence. What I'm saying is, if it were possible to love a complete stranger on the internet, I love you. Me, and all the other sad pandas still recovering from the revelation that you've met someone all do. So whomever you happen to meet in the future, or if you're dating the risen Christ right now, he'd better be willing to do all those things I listed and more. Or he's just not good enough for you. I say this in a completely non-stalkerish, thinking fondly of you from afar, way. You're wonderful, and I would feed you cookies if you let me.

motivatinggiraffe2 karma

Oh dear. This made me cry. Thank you my beautiful friend, truly.

While I had an incredible night talking with bar guy, we never saw each other again. I hope that the person I end up with is someone like you.

Shugbug19863 karma

Hey! I've actually started to want to draw again recently. It's been a while, so I'm pretty rusty but a few days ago I've started drawing daily again. I'd actually like to get good enough to start self publishing comics/manga that I've created in digital stores. What are some suggested resources for improving art? What are some things you'd like to do besides the giraffes? What are some unexpected hobbies you yourself have? Also, thanks for all the hard work to bring people joy! Also, thanks for being open about your own problems. It's definitely a tough thing to say, but saying it certainly helps others feel less isolated. Keep up the awesome work!

motivatinggiraffe3 karma

Thank you!!!

Improving art: it gets better with time, is all I can say! Don't be dismayed if what you do doesn't match what's in your head...just keep going, try again. Such a cliche but it's all in the practice.

Beside the giraffe: I do enjoy making other silly little comics based on the silly things I do. http://imgur.com/q1IlEa5 http://imgur.com/mi9COmQ

Unexpected hobbies: in my 5 years at university I attempted to use every single bathroom on campus, and rated them. Now whenever I use a bathroom, anywhere, I review them in my head haha.

Bringing people joy brings me so much joy. I love what I do. People are amazing :)

kostasthe1st3 karma

Hey Penny! Just a random question. If a stranger walked up to you and offered you ice cream, which flavor would you choose?

motivatinggiraffe4 karma

Chocolate. Every single time. None of this super minty banana cherry nonsense!