A while ago, I was on a bike ride at the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in Nashville with two of my good friends and fellow firefighters, Steve Delle and Philip Myers.
It was a beautiful day. Sun shining, mid 60's and a slight breeze. You get the picture. PERFECT! It was also midday and midweek, so unless you're retired, rich or a firefighter, you are probably at work. The trails were full of people. They were full of a majority of people who just looked plain sad. We'd wave or say "hello" and maybe get a nod or grunt for a response. I was baffled. You are on a greenway in superlative weather conditions. You are walking, so I know you're in good health. The music jammed in your ears must be your favorite tunes. You apparently are not working if you're here. You can't wave, fine. Can you at least smile back? Did CNN, Fox or your local news actually make you think the worst of everyone? We just wanted to share a little common joy of being on a greenway with friends on such a beautiful day.
Crazy, but the very same thing happened the next day my wife and I went for a walk. I thought we were living in the best of times? Salutations? Smile? It seemed to happen everywhere I went! I'm confused. Why are people so grumpy and sad? Especially of all places, America. Some have legitimate reasons, but most of us do not. Maybe some are so spoiled they forgot to be grateful. Maybe a smile or wave is too much work for someone you don't know. Maybe people who spend so much time on social media forgot how to be social in real life. I was tired of encountering more Scrooges than Stooges on a daily basis and wanted to do something about it. Hmmmm...but what?
It came to me one day. A sticker. I love STICKERS! My jeep, cooler, kayak, cameras, computer, longboard, bicycles, helmet, toolboxes. We could go on all day. Get the point though? They just seem to add a little soul to soulless objects. They don't cost much and some are just so cool; the colors, the logos and visibility. I had to design my own sticker in response to all the negativity. With one problem solved, the next was what was I going to say? What colors would I use? How big? How much? I can't stop now. I'm an artist, so I feel it is my responsibility to create and make this world a visually enjoyable place. I needed something positive, bold and simple. Then inspiration came knocking. SMILE. YES!
A smile is that facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and indicating pleasure or amusement. It is one form of exercise that actually feels good to do. More often than not it is contagious and a fitting phrase when taking photographs.
I got to work. I used a black background and yellow font to pay homage to a 1970's logo who also wanted you to be happy. The font is dedicated to my mom. This is my little way of thanking her for always being a positive figure when times were a little harder. I used capital letters and a period. This is referred to as "yelling" in the texting community. We all must yell when we feel strongly about something. The initials are my copyright.
The stickers are small enough to put anywhere. They're bold enough to get my message across. This simple piece of my art can be shown anywhere there is a clean surface. The really cool part of it is how many times that sticker will be viewed and hopefully make someone SMILE. The message is a positive one and one I'm proud of. I know this will not end world grumpiness, ungratefulness and the use of frowns, but my hope is to add some positivity into this world. It's working! The stickers have been a huge success and I've sent them all over the world. We also have been selling apparel with the SMILE. logo. Visit our online store, Old Glory Distilling Co., Riverside Bicycle Shop or Run-A-Muck Outfitters. This journey has been overwhelming and amazing!
Thank you and remember to SMILE.
SMILE. STICKERS & SHIRTS are available at:
WB is a simple man who lives the American dream nowadays and is constantly pinching himself to make sure it is real. He loves taking photographs and spreading the SMILE. message. He is an artist and photographer with a few fancy cameras and a beautifully framed BFA degree from Austin Peay State University.
WB is a wanderer who has traveled the globe twice and the U.S. countless times thanks to the United States Navy, his restless spirit and his worn out credit card. His career is most every young boy's dream by driving a fire truck, fighting fire and helping people. In 2011, he designed this inspirational logo that has reached the far ends of the globe.
WB was born in Queens, New York, but resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his beautiful, longtime traveling partner and wife. He works as a career Firefighter|Engineer for the city of Clarksville. He can be found on his time off backpacking the mountains, enjoying the ocean or cycling the pavement or dirt with a camera close by.
Web site design, photographs and SMILE. logo are © Copyright 2011, Willie Bailey(WB). SMILE. logo and photographs are the exclusive property of Willie Bailey(WB) and are protected under International Copyright laws. The SMILE. logo or photographs may not be reproduced, copied, stored or manipulated in any way without the written permission of Willie Bailey(WB). Use of the logo or photographs in any way is a violation of Copyright Law and will be enforced to its full extent. No images are within Public Domain.