Design is all around us, and needless to say we’re constantly bombarded with iconic images and advertisements. Some of the best designs merely comes from an accident or even just a doodle. Who would have thought that a simple smiley face would be one of the most drawn image in the world? Of course it doesn’t take much to draw it, but apparently there is claim that the origins of the smiley yellow face actually comes from Harvey Ball, who co-owned a public relations and advertising firm.

The origins of the Smiley Face was designed in 1963 to boost the morale of workers in an insurance company. The graphic artist from Worchester, Massachusetts, USA got the assignment from State Mutual’s promotional director. Ball’s design was originally just a smile, but then he soon realized that the smile would turn into a frown when you turn it upside down. The simple solution was to add two eyes and a circle. Ball added the yellow to add a sunshiny look to it.

The buttons at State Mutual turned out to be a success, and in time more were printed. Soon copycats would do the same design. So how much did Ball get for his artistic genius? Are you ready? $45! Yes. They had no idea how big this smiley face would become.

You might wonder, how would people know if Harvey Ball actually designed the original Smiley Face. Believe it or not, there has been research done on it, and smiley faces have been drawn before but it was Ball’s smiley face that had the yellow.


In April 2001, Harvey Ball past away at 79. May he rest in peace as the yellow smiley faces of the world look over us.