Friday, August 19, 2016

Smiley Face: Bosnia

Seen in Portland, Maine. August 19, 2016. Man on the street, from Bosnia, with Smiley shirt on.

Photography by Loren Coleman.

Tom Mellett adds:

Your focus on the Smiley Face deserves a look at the history of its creation.

Harvey Ross Ball (July 10, 1921 – April 12, 2001) was an American commercial artist. He is recognized as the earliest known designer of the smiley, which became an enduring and notable international icon.

After World War II, Ball worked for a local advertising firm until he started his own business, Harvey Ball Advertising, in 1959. He designed the smiley in 1963.
[ . . . ]
The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (now known as Hanover Insurance) had purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio. The merger resulted in low employee morale. In an attempt to solve this, Ball was employed in 1963 as a freelance artist, to come up with an image to increase morale. What he created was a smiley face, with one eye bigger than the other. In less than ten minutes, Harvey Ball came up with the simple yet world-changing smiley face. The simplicity of the image brought smiles to the faces of the executives, who paid him $45 for his creation.

The use of the smiley face became part of the company's friendship campaign whereby State Mutual handed out 100 smiley pins to employees. The aim was to get employees to smile while using the phone and doing other tasks. The buttons became popular, with orders being taken in lots of 10,000. More than 50 million smiley face buttons had been sold by 1971, and the smiley has been described as an international icon.

Ball never applied for a trademark or copyright of the smiley and earned just $45 for his work (US $315 in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars). State Mutual, similarly, did not make any money from the design. Ball's son, Charles, is reported to have said his father never regretted not registering the copyright. Telegram & Gazette reported Charles Ball as saying "he was not a money-driven guy, he used to say, 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.'"


I should note the connection with the Watchmen face

On July 18, 1998, around the 35th anniversary of the design's inception, Ball appeared at That's Entertainment to meet fans and sign smiley pins and art. At this appearance Ball was shown copies of the graphic novel Watchmen issue #1, which featured a notorious image of a smiley face with a splatter of blood across it. Store Manager Ken Carson was quoted as saying Ball seemed amused to see it on the cover.

For more, see here.

And here.

As well as here and here.

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