‘Shit Girls Say’: Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard Spin Book From Meme
Anna Klassen talks to Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard about the new book based on their Twitter account, Shit Girls Say.
“I can’t believe I ate all that.” “I’m so sick of all my clothes.” “What’s your tattoo mean?” “I love getting real mail.” “Can I steal one of your fries?” These, among a plethora of other complaints and insights, is the “shit” girls talk about, according to one popular meme. From 1,680,623 Twitter followers (and counting) to more than 17 million YouTube views on a single video, Shit Girls Say, the ever-expanding brand of playful, girlish mockery adds another mark to their bedpost: a book.
Living in a day and age when many popular memes revert to a medium that is thousands of years old to expand their product, Shit Girls Say is no different. The boys behind the viral Twitter account turned YouTube sensation present a platform that’s far less viral than their origins. The Harlequin hardback, out today, is appropriately dubbed: Sh*t Girls Say.
It’s a lot of what you might expect—funny phrases snatched from their Twitter feed and one-liners plucked from their Youtube videos blown up in a tangible flip-through format. But what’s unique about this coffee-table creation is, ironically, not the phrases but the presentation. Full-color pages and original photography feature towers of cupcakes, toy cars, and a real-life baby. Paired with a phrase, each page is like a physical meme, brought colorfully to life by creators Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard.
“Kyle’s background is in graphic design and I went to school for photography,” Sheppard says. “It was a really good opportunity for us to bring those backgrounds into this book.”
“We created everything, all of it,” Humphrey adds. And he isn’t lying. Recalling the photo shoot for the phrase “I’m thinking of becoming a vegan,” Humphrey says, “I was just sitting there with alphabet cookie cutters cutting out these slices of ham in the middle of this photo studio—it was the most bizarre experience.”
With its inception in April, it took about four months to turn the project around—“glueing, pasting, designing and printing, applying stickers to things”—Sheppard recalls. “It was really intensive during those few months, but it was a lot of fun as well,” adds Humphrey.
Sheppard, of course, is the dolled-up face behind the viral videos Shit Girls Say episodes 1–3, and newly released episode 4, and the muse for many of the snapshots in the book.
“When we first came up with the idea to turn [the phrases] into videos, I really wanted to be the girl,” Sheppard says. “Especially because we’d lived with the phrases for so long, it came really naturally. But we did go through the process of asking, ‘Should we get someone else?’ But then we decided that I like to be on camera.”
Dressed in full feminine attire and makeup, Sheppard, with his long brown hair, er, wig, complete with heavy bangs and the ability to be styled in every which way, has become the icon of the “Shit” brand. “When I tried on the original wig, it spoke to me,” he says. “It was an immediate love story.”
While the wig was an easy find, Sheppard went to great lengths to ensure his “Girl” looked the part: “I raided my friend’s closet, and we had a stylist who helped out ... for the book. We tried to take it to a more editorial place.” But achieving feminine features wasn’t as easy as smearing on a shade of red lipstick and rose-colored blush. “There was lots of heavy makeup,” Sheppard says, “to cover up the stubble.”
For one shoot, “These Are Happy Tears,” Sheppard had to lie down on set, allowing the makeup artist to quickly write on his face in fake tears, giving them just a few minutes to capture the perfect grimace before the makeup melted under the hot camera lights.
But quirky origins surround all of the pair’s beloved and quotable phrases.
“‘I Hate the Word Moist” came from “when someone says, ‘The cake is so moist,’ someone else always says right afterward, ‘ugh, I hate the word moist’—and [the phrase] fit in perfectly with our other baked section,” Sheppard says.
“Ice Cream Makes Me Cough?” “That was actually one that my sister texted me,” Humphrey says. “My sister is always texting me with new Shit Girls Say things, so that one came directly from her. I’ve never really experienced the ice cream thing—but apparently that happens a lot.”
And of course, there is “Could You Pass Me That Blanket?”—the single phrase that started it all. “That was the genesis,” Sheppard says. “We were sitting on the couch one day and one of us said, ‘Could you pass me that blanket?’ and that phrase is actually one of the ones that made it [from the Twitter account] into the book, so it made it all the way through.”
But behind every successful man is a woman—and for these men, their motivation was no different. “I think we really identify with women,” Sheppard says. “We hang out with women, we grew up with single moms, and we both have sisters. It’s not necessarily getting inside the mind of a girl, but being very observational.”
Yet if they had to step inside the mind of a girl, the girl, what would their female halves be christened?
“Graydonia,” Sheppard says.
“Oh my goodness, I haven’t even thought about that ever,” Humphrey says. “I think Kylie is too easy, what would a good name be? Dominique.”