The Smiley Face: More Famous Than Mona Lisa

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Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, the late Harvey Ball, a self-employed commercial artist, drew the first smiley face in December 1963 for a local insurance company that wanted happy buttons to raise employee morale. He said he received about $45 for the sketch, drawn with black felt-tip pen on yellow paper. Before his death in 2001 and after millions and millions uses of smiley faces later, Harvey said: “Smiley is one of the greatest pieces of art ever created, as simple as it is. It’s got a very, very positive message. Anybody can use it and reproduce it and it reaches everybody … I’m glad Smiley came from Worcester. The city should make more of it. Because no other city has this.”

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