Did You Know Who Invented The Smiley Face?

By | August 4, 2018
Harvey Ball

Harvey Ball: The man who invented the smiley face!

Harvey Ball

Harvey Ball might not be a famous name, but he created one of the most recognizable icons in the world. Harvey Ball was born on July 10, 1921, in Worcester, Massachusetts. During World War II, Ball served in Asia and the Pacific and was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism during the Battle of Okinawa. After the war ended, he started his own company, Harvey Ball Advertising. In 1963, a company hired Ball to sketch something to be used on buttons, and Ball came up with a smiley face on a bright yellow background. The design took him less than 10 minutes to complete and hence he was paid $45 for his work.

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Harvey Ball said, “Smiley has become so commercialized that its original message of spreading good will and good cheer has all but disappeared”. Harvey Ball died on April 12, 2001, of liver failure at the age of 79. Nearly 50 years after commissioning its creation, the company now known as Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance still uses his Smiley Face in its promo materials.

The simple yellow smiley face created in 1963 (probably) has led to tens of thousands of variations and from pillows and posters to perfume and pop art it has appeared on everything. Its meaning has changed with social and cultural values: from the optimistic message of a 1960s insurance company, to commercialized logo, to an ironic fashion statement, to a symbol of rave culture imprinted on ecstasy pills, to a wordless expression of emotions in text messages.

World Smile Foundation

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