Unwell Smiley

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Illustration of a face with its eyes half closed and tongue sticking out on a pink background

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The classic yellow smiley face is comprised of a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes, and a black arc ending in serifs for a mouth. It was designed in 1963 by commercial artist, Harvey Ross Ball. Ball was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Insurance Company to create a happy face to raise the morale of their employees. His version was created in 10 minutes. The design was printed onto more than 50 million buttons. Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted this smiley, so it was continually used by other businesses in their promotions.
The design and concept is quite simple and was definitely used before Ball’s 1963 version. However, his has become the most iconic. Variations have been used for advertising campaigns and in popular culture ever since.

Highlights children's magazine often gave out promotional items in the 1980s with personified smiley faces on them, such as buttons or stickers. This is likely one of those items.

In internet culture the unwell face is often represented by an emoji with a green face, puffed out cheeks as if holding onto vomit. It represents feeling sick or feeling disgust.


About Harvey Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2020, from https://www.worldsmileday.com/index.php/article-index/item/380-about-ha…

Nauseated Face Emoji. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://emojipedia.org/nauseated-face/

Catalog ID SM0177