In the summer of 2003, Bren Bataclan began his street art installation. The project involves the artist leaving his cartoon inspired paintings for people to take for “free” all over Boston (park benches, train stations, hospitals, senior centers, schools, etc.). Attached to each painting is a note saying, “This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often.” Bren has since gone worldwide with hisproject and he has begun to paint murals and exhibit his paintings across the country. Prior to painting full time, Bren taught computer graphics and design at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at the Boston Museum School. He also worked in a design think tank lab in Boston and was involved in the computer animation industry in California. Bren received his undergraduate degree in design from UCLA, Summa Cum Laude, and his graduate degree in computer animation from the Ohio State University.

Bren’sproject has been featured in the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, The Smithsonian Magazine, The Readers Digest, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe and most recently, PRI's The World. In 2013, Heinemann published a book about Bren's artwork. Bren also gave a TEDxTalk in 2017 >>>


My childhood in the Philippines helped shape the characters I paint today. The color scheme I use–vibrant and festive–is based on what I used to see when I was a kid in Manila. Anime is also a big influence in my work, which is why most of my creatures have big eyes (a lot of pieces I create have one big eye and a smaller one, my signature look). When I was 12, my family moved to San Francisco and it was there that I was exposed to street art. With that in mind, I also started my own street art project, SmileyB™ ( For the past decade, I’ve given away over 2,500 paintings across the country and around the world.

My background is in graphic design and computer animation. It should come as no surprise that my characters are so graphic, stylized and streamlined. My goal is to have the least amount of details (I rarely paint noses and ears) and have the maximum amount of personality.


- To bring art to people who may not typically visit art galleries and museums.
- To give paintings to folks who may not be able to afford original artwork.
- And to see more smiles around the globe.

In a nutshell... Bren has always been a big fan of graffiti but he would never vandalize public or private properties. And so, Bren leaves his paintings in public spaces for people to take for free--as a form of temporary graffiti.