For the past five years, they have worked together on a project that unearthed the complex and expansive history of one of the most iconic symbol of modern culture: the yellow smiley face. The research resulted in a book that celebrates the smiley face’s impact on art, music, pop and alternative culture.
“The book you hold in your hands represents Rich Browd’s and my love of a symbol that has lived many distinct lives and is still being reinterpreted and inspiring creativity. In the history of graphic design, I can think of no other symbol that has ever held such a duality—used simultaneously as both a positive mainstream driver and a counterculture subverter of that very mainstream.” Says DB Burkeman
“The smiley iconography has spanned nearly 60 years, beginning in 1963 when Harvey Ball was tasked with a simple graphic design job to boost employee morale at an insurance company. It has since taken on multiple lives and appropriations across a diverse range of mediums including Hollywood cinema, graphic design, alternative & indie music, skateboarding, graffiti culture, high & low fashion, and even fine art. It has woven & winked itself into the zeitgeist and cultural fabric of our physical and digital universe.” we can read on their Kickstarter’s campaign page
The smiley face art stems from everywhere: from music & movies (like Nirvana and Billy Madison) to the symbolism within the hippie, punk, grunge and rave eras; from professional sports (like Dennis Rodman’s hair) to graffiti and vandalism (like Erik Foss’ tag), to fine art (like Robb Pruitt and Richard Prince).
Leaving aside the paraphernalia, The Sm;)e Book is a curated collection of artworks incorporating the yellow smiley face from some of the most important visual communicators of our time.
“It’s such a simple mark, and it doesn’t surprise me that it has been flipped on its head for generations. It’s for this reason I’m so very excited to present to you some of my favorite artists who are keeping this tradition alive today, and I’m happy to be doing it with DB. Please, remember to Sm;)e. ” Rich Browd says
Rich Browd (Left), Paul Insect + BÄST (Right)
The book includes works by some of the world’s most potent visual communicators, including – Alex Da Corte, Alex Fuller, Alex Trochut, Alfie Steiner, Alicia McCarthy, Anthony Sarcone, Aurel Schmidt, BANKSY, Carlos Valencia, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Chris Alborano, Cody Hudson, Curtis Kulig, DB Burkeman, Derek Gardner, Destroy All Monsters, Eric Elms, Erik Foss, Greg Bogin, IMBUE, INVADER, James Cauty, James Joyce, Jeremy Deller, KATSU, Mark Flood, Matthew Nichols, Misaki Kawai, Norman Cook (a.k.a. Fatboy Slim), Patrick Rocha, Paul Insect + BÄST, Paul Weston, Philip Gerald, Rachel Maclean, Richard Prince, Rich Browd, Rob Pruitt, Ron English, Sadie Benning, Sayre Gomez, SKULLPHONE, Tyrrell Winston, Wolfgang Tillmans, Yung Jake, and 1UP CREW.
“As I write this, we are in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, while demonstrations and violence have erupted on the streets in protest of police brutality and systemic injustice towards the Black community. If there was ever a time that this ideogram should be doing its work, it’s now. We hope to help you Sm;)e.” DB Burkeman
To publish the book, the authors are currently running a campaign on Kickstarter where The Sm;)e Book is available to preorder for $15 now through November 6.
(Note: 10% of book’s sales will go directly to skateistan.org, which empowers children at risk through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.)