Birth of a Ball
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts on July 10, 1921. Ball became an apprentice sign painter while attending Worcester South High School. After school, he studies fine arts at Worcester Art Museum School.
Serving in Asia and the Pacific during World War II, Ball was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism. Ball served in the National Guard for the majority of his life, retiring in 1979.
After the war ended, he began working for an advertising company and started his own company, Harvey Ball Advertising. Harvey was contacted by State Mutual Life Insurance Company in his home town of Worcester in 1963. Promotional Director Joy Young wanted to boost morale after her company bought out competing Guarantee Mutual Insurance Company of Ohio. She wanted a design that would bring together the two companies as one.
Harvey Bell was hired to create a design that would fit on buttons. Ball sketched the simple design of the smiley face on the eye catching yellow background. Ball’s first attempt was just the smile, but he thought that people would misunderstand it as a frown because it could be turned around to look like it. He decided to add eyes to the smile and to add a human aspect to the drawing, he made the left eye bigger than the right. Harvey was paid $45 for the smile.