Designing the smiley face symbol

smiley face design

I was interested today to read about Harvey Ball (pictured above), the graphic artist credited with designing the smiley face logo in 1963. I found it an odd thought to credit someone with designing the symbol, as surely children have scribbled millions of these over the years.

Credit to Harvey though, he put his name to it first.

To quote Wiikpedia:

The use of the smiley face was 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 were highly popular, with orders in lots of 10,000. More than 50 million Smiley Face buttons were sold by 1971, and the smiley has been described as an international icon.

The punchline to the article was that although the buttons the logo was designed for had sold more than 50 million units in the following 8 years, Harvey never trademarked his logo and so received only the initial $45 dollars ( about $300 by today’s standards ) for the design.

Bad luck Harvey.

Still, I think most graphic designers will be hard pressed to say they designed something so widely recognised.

One thought on “Designing the smiley face symbol”

  1. It is funny to think of someone “inventing” the smiley logo, like you said, surely it’s been around forever.

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