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Smiley face

Art that became an icon.

Don’t you just love the Smiley face? A simple little smiling round face became a huge world-wide icon. And it all started with a small job for a commercial artist.

The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts needed to boost employee morale. So they turned to art. Good decision! They hired Harvey Ball to design an image for a button.

Ball’s fee? $45.00. Not bad for ten minutes of work in 1963.

Except that was the end of Harvey Ball’s participation. (Insert sad face here.)

So Smiley was born. And soon became a global pop culture sensation. Global! A world without smiley faces is impossible to imagine, isn’t it?

Smiley face

Smiley face always puts a smile on my face.

The original Smiley has a crooked smile and oval eyes, one larger than the other. Imperfect and endearing. Charming, if you will. Friendly, even. Pictured are my original Smiley pins from the 1970s. They’re teeny — about the size of a nickel and two dimes. Even smaller than dimes. They’re art! I don’t remember how I got them, but I loved them so much growing up, and still treasure them. (Stay back, Marie Kondo.)

I think Smiley is the ancestor of pretty much all the emojis we use today in texts and social media posts. Basically Smiley 2.0 (or more?) What do you think? No coincidence that most emojis today are yellow. You could say Smiley has a lot of influence.

Smiley face

Born in 1963 and still going strong (in different forms) almost 60 years later. Google it. It’s a fascinating story. And you might enjoy this entertaining and award-winning documentary podcast all about Smiley:  http://bit.ly/1816nM5

So thanks, Harvey Ball for your 10 minutes of work, which ended up creating a legacy.




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