It’s been 50 years since the iconic Smiley face came into prominence, used by journalist Franklin Loufrani to highlight segments of good news in the paper. Now, the symbol is more significant than ever, having grown into emoticons (emojis) that revolutionized our ability to express feelings through digital communication. It’s rare that an icon reaches so far for so long, and yet, the smiley shows no signs of fading!
To celebrate Smiley World’s semicentennial, we’ve partnered with previous collaborator André Saraiva, the Swedish-French artist, to create a limited-edition collection of remixed Smiley faces! André’s playful, graffiti-inspired expressions give the Smiley a modern update while highlighting what makes it so special.
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André’s Mr. A character meets the Smiley face! Mr. A was first used as a graffiti tag in the 90s, covering the streets, buildings, and le métro of Paris. This cheeky character emerged at a time when most tags were text-based, making André’s usage of characters somewhat revolutionary, and it soon earned him acclaim and attention.
Mr. A, just like the Smiley face, was used as a form of communication, emotional expression, and connection with the citizens of Paris. This makes it a perfect match for Smiley! The combination of X & O eyes, a comical form of winking, with the Smiley-face grin creates an artistic evolution of the 50-year-old icon.
The “Mrs. A” LED neon sign might look similar to Mr. A, but don’t be mistaken! It has its own personality and significance to André’s design history. The eyelashes add a fashionable touch, sure, but it’s the vivid pink that matters.
In the 90s, it was the brash, brighter yellows and reds that were used in graffiti artwork, inspired by the hip-hop scene. André mixed things up yet again by using pink, a color which he says is “the color that makes all the other colors sound good.” This lighter color palette gives the Smiley face a touch of audacious style!
According to one of André's good friends, Olivier Zahm, “In André’s world, drawings have a special currency, like billets-doux to share Love.” If this is the case, then this neon sign is the embodiment of his goal to share love.
To the traditional heart symbol is added the expressive X & O eyes of Andrés characters, the smiley face grin, and an accentuating flourish that pops in contrasting white neon. It’s an energized design that captures both the spirit of the Smiley face as well as the love the world has for it. Use it to create a loving, inspired space for your child!
There’s something undeniably magical about a symbol that can bring us all together, that we can use as a shorthand for emotional communication. This neon sign captures this with a remixed Smiley face topped with a magician's hat.
This playful neon artwork is the perfect way to capture the childlike enthusiasm for wonder and magic, creating a space optimized for play. Its stick figure arms and winking expression add an extra touch of personality to the design.
The playfulness of the Smiley face is fully realized in this Dancing Lady LED neon sign! André’s iconic stick figure rendition of Mrs. A combines with the Smiley face silhouette and grin to create an energized art piece.
The stick-limbed figure and Smiley face have both adorned the walls of international cities, t-shirts, bags, and other surfaces throughout the world. Now they come together in neon light, embodying your child’s playful spirit and uninhibited self-expression.
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The Smiley face has inspired people of all ages across five decades, and now it can continue to share positivity, joy, and inspiration with a new generation. André Saraiva’s emphasis on playfulness and self-expression mix perfectly with the Smiley face’s boundless enthusiasm. The result of this collaboration is a limited-edition set of emotional expressions that do more than reinvent an icon, they’ll help you get Back to Cool!
You can use these signs to create a play-centered space, to help your child learn to interpret and express their own feelings, and to encourage creative exploration as they grow. After 50 years, the Smiley face is still just as important as it was in the early 70s. Share this icon with your kids, updated by the world-renowned artist, to shine some loving light into their life!