Bren Bataclan is a Boston-based artist. He was born in the Philippines and grew up in Daly City, California. Prior to becoming a full-time artist, Bren taught design and computer animation at UMass Amherst and the 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 3,000 paintings in over 70 different countries and in all 50 states in the US. 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 200 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 has also published an elementary school textbook entitled The Smile Artist about his artwork. In 2017, he gave a TEDxTalk about his street art project. Bren received his BA in design at UCLA and his MA in computer animation at The Ohio State University.