What To Collect Now - Prints & Editions Report

A Nice Day

Released in 2003, Banksy's Have a Nice Day sees Banksy's acid-house smiley face motif pasted ominously onto the faces of an oncoming military police force. The prints undermine the authority assumed by the military and police forces but simultaneously exaggerate their threatening aura, as the masks further their anonymity.

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Meaning & Analysis

Banksy’s 2003 print Have a Nice Day undermines the terror instilled by oncoming military police by pasting an acid-house smiley face on every soldier. In the centre of the group is a grey and black tank, underneath which, the words ‘Have a nice day’ are written.

The men are kitted out in all-black riot gear, marching in unison against an unseen ‘threat,’ in fact, towards the viewer of the piece. The faces of the police, which in reality would be covered with protective visors, are covered with bright yellow smiley faces; a motif we see fairly regularly in Banksy prints, particularly when it comes to portraying figures that use fear as a means of control – for example, Banksy’s Grin Reaper and Flying Copper, which both use the smiley face to challenge the viewer and flip the norm.

Whether or not Banksy intended Have A Nice Day to intimidate or amuse, the artwork certainly speaks both to the idea that the police force is not all they seem (perhaps hiding behind their smiles) and to the concept of them being simply there to be ridiculed.