FAMU student’s Black Rolf meme goes viral

Graphic design student Elijah Rutland.

In the world of social media, a joke can last for one day or three weeks. On Twitter, one of the latest jokes has been in the form of an animated meme (a humorous image spread rapidly by Internet users), and it still has people laughing weeks later. The meme is of Rolf from “Ed Edd N Eddy” looking out the window, with a witty caption that fits the trend of punchlines.

Rolf meme.

On Sept. 5, Florida A&M University graphic design student Elijah Rutland decided to join the wave and make a version of himself, which was quickly adopted as the official “Black Rolf” meme. Rutland created the meme as a joke for his artistic friends, then later posted it on social platforms.

The official "Black Rolf" meme.

His tweet was circulated by a few hundred, but his meme went viral. “Black Rolf” was remade by numerous social media users on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On his Instagram page @fixmysole, the post sits at 2.4k likes and 96 comments.

With Instagram and Twitter being his main platforms to showcase his art, Rutland likes his work to speak for him rather than a wordy caption. Since drawing cartoons as a child, Rutland has preferred visual communication over verbal communication.

“Because of the art, it’s introduced me to people without having to speak. Since I don’t really like to talk, it’s been really helpful with that,” said Rutland.

Art serves as a bridge for his interest in African-American history and himself. Describing his art as an extension of himself, Rutland is actively making representation part of his life’s mission.

As a child, he had a habit of using the peach crayon over the chocolate crayon. “I want more kids to draw people that look like them, instead of the white superheros,” said Rutland.

This mindset is what made “Black Rolf” more than just a laughing matter. Rutland recalls being nicknamed Picasso in the high school band, but what many would consider a perfect compliment, Rutland regarded it as rather concerning.

“I didn’t make an issue out of it. But, when people think of art they think of Picasso, when people think of basketball they think of Kobe or Lebron. It’s kind of saddening,” said Rutland.

Black art has surrounded Rutland forever. His parents who are big on collecting black art, Rutland is determined to diversify the faces of fine arts.

“I started in high school buying black memorabilia, art, books, and collectibles. My husband was also an art collector so we always wanted our children to know about their history and heritage through art,” said Rutland’s mother.

Most of the student-artist’s portfolio consists of black people in various depictions. With a love for drawing and cartoons, Rutland has dreams of creating diverse content for Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.

With a strong support system, Rutland should have no problem going far in the art world.

“He should keep going because it's only a matter of time before he's up next,” said childhood friend, Jordan Murphy.

As for now, the student-artist can be found on his Instagram platform @fixmysole with contact information and a list of the services he can provide.