Bren Bataclan is a Boston-based artist. He was born in the Philippines and grew up in Daly City/Bay Area, CA. Prior to becoming a full time artist, Bren taught design and computer animation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Boston Museum School. In the early 2000s, Bren began giving away paintings in public spaces with a note saying, "This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often." Since then, he has given away close to 4,000 paintings in over 100 different countries and to all 50 states in the U.S. As anti-bullying programs gained popularity, schools began to ask Bren to give presentations about his kindness-related street art project. His "Pay-It-Forward" themed presentations led to mural projects. Bren has now painted over 300 murals for schools, hospitals and businesses.

The cartoon-like characters Bren draws are inspired by his days watching "Giant Robot" anime shows when he was a kid in Manila. The color scheme he uses for his acrylic-based paintings is what he used to see growing up in a tropical, festive and vibrant country. Bren now goes beyond his painting giveaways. He currently delves deeper into his Filipino culture, both personally and politically. Since a recent spate of "super storms" in his homeland, Bren has created series of typhoon-related artwork to heighten Global Warming awareness and to raise funds for storm victims. His newer works deal with his immigration experience.

Bren has exhibited his work across the country. Heinemann Press also published an elementary school textbook entitled, "The Smile Artist," about his artwork. In 2017, he gave a TEDxTalk about his street art project >>>. In 2021, Bren's book, Fe: A Traumatized Son's Graphic Memoir, was published by PAWA >>> And in 2022, he became an Artist Fellow with the Cultural Diplomacy Initiative at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University >>>

His project has also been featured in the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, The Smithsonian Magazine, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle and most recently, PRI's The World >>>

Bren received his BA in design at UCLA (summa cum laude) and his MA in computer animation at the Ohio State University.


I like to make people smile—that's why I give away acrylic paintings with whimsical characters. My kindness-related street art project led me to work with schools, where I feel so fortunate to be able to collaborate with students, incorporating their work in large scale murals. I didn't expect to become a muralist but I am loving it. Lastly, I explore Filipino-related subjects in my more personal work. Expressing my cultural background through my artwork is one of my passions.