Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Harvey Ross Ball, A Graphic Designer Who Invented the Iconic Smiley Face in 1963

Harvey Ross Ball (July 10, 1921 – April 12, 2001) was an American commercial artist. He is also the creator of the smiley face that is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts.           He enjoyed a very successful career as a graphic designer and illustrator.

Harvey Ross Ball in 1963, get an assignment by an insurance company known as the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of America but nowadays it is known as Hanover Insurance company.

The company at that time was facing some major crashes and difficult situations. Therefore, he was commissioned to create a morale-boosting image for its employees. The idea was to design something that would help improve the company’s image after a series of mergers and difficult internal changes.

Harvey Ross Ball sketched the iconic smiley face in just ten minutes by working with a simple circular shape. The design consisted of a bright yellow circle with two black dots for the eyes and a gentle, slightly upturned black arc for the mouth. The simplicity and universality of the design contributed to its widespread popularity.

At that time, Harvey Ross Ball was paid only $45 for providing the iconic smiley face. The company used this symbol in its various internal materials. But later, the smiley face popularity increased beyond the company expectations.

Within short period, it became associated with positive emotions, happiness, and goodwill. The smiley face took on a life of its own and began to appear on various products, merchandise, and in popular culture.

In the 1970s, the smiley face became an integral part of the hippie counterculture and a symbol of the “have a nice day” sentiment. It became a commercial icon and was widely used in marketing campaigns, becoming a timeless symbol of positivity and joy.

Harvey Ball later became concerned that the commercialization of his creation overshadowed its original intent as a symbol of kindness and goodwill. In response, he created “World Smile Day” in 1999, an annual celebration held on the first Friday of October. The day is a reminder for people to perform acts of kindness and make others smile.

Harvey Ball’s creation has left an indelible mark on popular culture and continues to be a recognizable symbol of happiness and positivity worldwide. Although he passed away in 2001, his legacy lives on through the smiley face and the celebration of World Smile Day.

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