February 1, 2023

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Smiles, Hong Kong, & the Power of Positivity: Get to Know Seeds of Happiness Artist Jimmy Paintz

Seeds of Happiness, in collaboration with Dapper Labs and graffiti artist Jimmy Paintz, will have a presence at the SCOPE art show taking place during Art Basel Miami from Tuesday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 4.

Seeds of Happiness is designed to create a chain reaction of positivity by forming a community around artists and art projects that brighten the world, lift spirits, and celebrate everyday moments of happiness.

The project kicked off on 11/15 with an exclusive first drop of Jimmy Paintz‘ unique smiley face art, sold for $555 as a pairing of his physical art and digital NFT, which will be available for minting on-site during Art Basel Miami.

Ahead of the Seeds of Happiness genesis drop, the brand caught up with the mind behind the smiles for an extended interview about the project!

For Jimmy Pierce, aka Los Angeles-based street artist Jimmy Paintz, smiles entered his life when he needed them most—during some tough times. In 2017, Jimmy experienced a tragedy with the sudden loss of his mother, who passed away when they traveled to their family’s birthplace in the Philippines via a layover in Hong Kong.

Stuck in Hong Kong with little to occupy his mind but sad feelings, Jimmy turned to what had always been his greatest passion and form of release: making art. The start of what would become his artistic trademark and breakout style, Jimmy hit the streets of Hong Kong with a can of spray paint and got to work.

“It came at a good time, it came when I needed it.”

Jimmy Paintz

“I was going rogue with this stuff in the middle of the streets of Central Hong Kong,” Jimmy said over the phone from his home in Los Angeles.

“When I got back, I was like, what was I doing? But it paid off. A few street art blogs did some write-ups on some pieces around Hong Kong, and some of my work showed up. I don’t sign my pieces with big names – people were like, ‘Who’s the smiley face artist?’ I started getting tagged on Instagram.

“It was interesting being there in Hong Kong, distraught, and then seeing what came out of it. Years later, I went back and worked with a group in the LKF (Lan Kwai Fong district), and they gave me a space to actually paint a legit mural. It was a full-circle moment.”

Jimmy Paintz. Photo courtesy of Seeds of Happiness

As Jimmy’s smiley faces gained global recognition, he entered new artistic mediums via friends and connections—one of them being NFTs! Jimmy had a few brushes (pun alert!) with the digital art world already, born naturally via collaborators who shared his artistic vision.

A lifelong lover of classic cars, Jimmy worked on a project called Cryptomotive to digitize some of his work and apply it as drip smiles on vinyl on small collectible cars, one that was even a replica of his own beloved 1964 Chevy Impala.

He even lent some of his designs to the Rude Dog NFT project, which he told us was an extension of his passion for vinyl toys and Kid Robot. 

Years later, digital art came again into Jimmy’s life during another period of loss, during the passing of his father in the summer of 2021.

Jimmy slipped into another period of sadness and reduced productivity around the holidays. A friend of Jimmy’s, film producer and art lover Maurice Fadida, suggested that Jimmy try something new. After a missed encounter in Miami during Art Basel, Maurice invited Jimmy to his house in Los Angeles, and Jimmy brought with him a personal gift for Maurice: one of his cut-out paper smiley faces.

Maurice, a longtime friend of Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, suggested they team up to create an NFT art collection around the mission of spreading happiness and positivity. As they say, the rest is history. Ahead of the launch of Seeds of Happiness, an art project to “inspire a movement of happiness through art,” we caught up with Jimmy, who created the genesis collection of 8,888 custom, spray-painted smiley faces, to learn more about his work, process, and what happiness means to him.

Seeds of Happiness: Jimmy, where’s your happy place?

Jimmy Paintz: The beach. That’s my one true happy place whether it’s wet, rainy, or cold. There’s something about it that recharges me, especially because I grew up landlocked in Arkansas.

SoH: How does it feel to have potentially 8,888 new friends?

I almost see it more as it’s cool to have them as friends and that people will enjoy the art and love it, but I feel more joy about those 8,888 new friends sharing the art itself and how much more positivity it’s going to spread once it’s in their hands. That makes it.

At that point, they can show it to people—it’s doing what a seed is supposed to do; grow and sprout fruit and pass along more. I feel like once all the seeds are finally out there, it just allows more people to be exposed to something positive.

“I feel like once all the seeds are finally out there, it’s like it just allows more people to be exposed to something positive.”

Jimmy Paintz

SoH: When you were a kid, what was the one thing that made you smile?

JP: Toy shopping was the biggest thing. I was a materialistic kid [laughs]. I still get the same smile on my face when I get a random toy, or something cool that I want. So that was one of those things that my parents always used to bring me out of a bad mood.

SoH: How long does it usually take you to create one of your smiley face pieces?

JP: It really depends on the piece. For the paper smiles it can take a few days, because each piece has to be cut into circles. I will usually lay those circles out in the studio and do a background paint on them and then do the abstract to them.

Then they have to dry overnight. Also, I have to take them and I draw each by hand, draw the smile onto the face and sign them. So let’s say one, two, maybe three days for each of those pieces, but I try to make them not just singles.

I try to take one day, cut as many circles as possible, then take the next day and paint as many as possible. and then take another day or two and fully complete it. It’s like an assembly line.

SoH: What’s a song that makes you happy?

JP: [Bobby McFerrin’s] “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Between that [Bob Marley’s] “Three Little Birds.”

SoH: What about food? Is there a food that makes you particularly happy?

JP: I think it’s a toss up between pasta and sushi. I’m always happy with sushi. If you’re laying on the couch, pasta is great as a lazy comfort food. Truffle pasta.

SoH: What’s the happiest color?

JP: The happiest color is yellow to me. It’s just so bright. I feel like no matter what I add to my work, yellow always changes the mood. It changes the feeling of a piece. But my favorite color is green. I’ve always just been a great fan of green ever since I was a kid growing up in Arkansas, all the greens there. I wore a lot of camo, I was always in the green. I’m a green guy.

SoH: What kind of paint do you use?

JP: I want to say the majority of the paint I use is spray paint, maybe like 90%. I like to also mix acrylics for my canvas pieces. I don’t discriminate with paint, I’ll use any kind. There’s guys like Jackson Pollock or Basquiat who used house paint on a lot of their stuff. We don’t have to go out and buy a $70 jar of gold paint. I want to make things that are visually appealing, it doesn’t matter what paint it is, as long as the vibe of the paint is good.

SoH: Are there any artists or specific pieces who have brought you extended joy or inspired your work? 

JP: My favorite “ happy artist” right now is Takashi [Murakami]. His happy flowers always brighten up any room that I walk into. I feel like any character that is kind of happy and smiling back at you, if you’re still a kid at heart, it hits you differently. Once we get older we often tune that out, we lose that touch with that type of energy. Youthful energy is one of the most powerful energies.

SoH: Who are some iconic people or places you’ve created smiles for?

JP: Nobu [Matsuhisa] was one of my favorites. He’s just a happy guy. He’s also an artist too, a food artist. Happy chefs, happy food. It’s good all around. I did a big smile mural for The Game too. He’s got a gigantic smiley mural in his crib. Dave Navarro has one in his place too. Jennifer Love Hewitt as we.

SoH: Where’s your dream place to create a smile? Anywhere in the word.

JP: One of my big dreams is to paint the biggest abstract smile in the world, something that’s just absolutely enormous. A world record type of thing. I want to do something where we can repaint a whole helicopter pad with one gigantic smile, and then it’s kind of framed by the city skyline. It would be epic, you could almost see it from space.

SoH: How many smiles do you think you’ve created in your life?

I want to say it’s in the six figures by now. Maybe 200,000 plus. I’m gonna have to put a number on it.

“You need to have a few little pockets of positivity that you can dip into here and there.”

Jimmy Paintz

SoH: What’s your advice for people to find a creative medium to express their happiness?

JP: I feel like everybody should just try a few different things. Don’t settle on the first thing that you feel that you’re creative with and that you feel that you’re good at, because there’s so many branches to creativity. I started out in clothing.

I never even painted on canvas until I want to say 2010. And that’s just because I started being around actual artists. Once I actually started having access to certain supplies and surrounded myself with more art, I got inspired to do something different.

SoH: How can we feel more happiness in our lives in today’s crazy, crazy world?

JP: You have to surround yourself with little pockets of positivity. Your life isn’t always going to be perfect. You’re not always going to have things going on, but you need to have a few little pockets of positivity that you can dip into here and there, whether it’s going to the beach or having a few close friends in your circle who are going to change your day.

I don’t think we’ll ever find the one thing that will be so positive that it’ll change everything. It’s life, we’re always going to have those ups and up and down moments. Find a good handful of things and bounce around between them. You’ll start to forget about the bad things. You won’t forget about them completely, but they’ll start to move to the back end.

Follow Jimmy Paintz on Instagram

Follow Seeds of Happiness on Twitter and Instagram

To ensure the project also spreads good will, a portion of all proceeds will go to Cedars Sinai healing collection, Heart Support, Inner City Arts and Operation Smile.

By I&T Today

By I&T Today

Innovation & Tech Today features a wide variety of writers on tech, science, business, sustainability, and culture. Have an idea? Send it to submit@innotechtoday.com

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