Arts·Video

The artist behind Vancouver's ubiquitous smiley face opens up about his 'cathartic' process

Meet Nicenothings, the anonymous artist who's covering the streets of Vancouver with a symbol of positivity.

Meet Nicenothings, the anonymous artist who's covering the streets of Vancouver with a symbol of positivity

Meet the artist who is covering the streets of Vancouver with a symbol of positivity

1 year ago
Duration 4:10
Meet Nicenothings, the anonymous artist who's covering the streets of Vancouver with a symbol of positivity.

Next time you're standing at a crosswalk in downtown Vancouver, look down at the pavement and you might notice a little face smiling back at you. These simple little smiley faces are the work of Nicenothings, an artist who prefers to remain anonymous and let his work speak for itself. 

The artist behind Nicenothings works in graphic design but he's been painting faces since he was a kid. "I just focus on facial features," he says. "I don't know why. I think there's something super interesting about that."

His signature icon is a simple line drawing of a smiling face — just a nose, eyes and mouth. Over the past few years, he's covered the city in them, on pavements and in alleys, from Granville Island to Mount Pleasant.

The artist behind Nicenothings (CBC Arts)

He first drew the face at a time when he was struggling with depression, and it has become a symbol of positivity and perseverance for him. Plastering it all over Vancouver has been a cathartic process for him, he says.

"I think it's an idea and an embodiment of the idea that you can do whatever the fuck you want with your life," he says about the face. "Doing whatever and just trying to be super positive about everything."

"Like, sure, I started drawing that smile and that's kind of the face of it, but I'm a practitioner of its message." 

Nicenothings drawing his signature smiley face on a crosswalk (CBC Arts)

Filmmaker - Daniel Lins Da Silva

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mercedes Grundy has been producing videos for CBC Arts and Exhibitionists since 2015. She is a unabashed Leonardo DiCaprio enthusiast with an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC. And while her love for the arts does not discriminate, she openly acknowledges she is a horrible dancer.

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