Drawing Currency — Illustrations in the Color of Money


I am very familiar with the art of drawing currency.

Over the years, many clients have commissioned my illustration services for images incorporating the graphic elements of money. In many cases, I am asked to insert someone’s portrait into space normally reserved for George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and the rest.

Speaking of Jackson, Here’s a currency illustration I did for a store chain that ran a print-ad, advertising a sale. It’s a straightforward rendition of the central oval on the old version of the Twenty-Dollar bill:

Drawing Currency - Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson from the old version of the $20

One of the more interesting projects I worked on, drawing currency, was for the Luxor Casino in Vegas. The client needed a super-graphic of that mysterious eye from the One-dollar bill, to drape from the top of the casino building. After completing the drawing (always by hand), I converted it to a vector file, giving it that smooth graphic look:

The Luxor - Currency Illustration

The Luxor in Currency

Wish I had a photo of that thing hanging up there —  must have looked awesome!

One time, Time Magazine hired me to do a cover illustration, for a story about Arab oil and its relationship with the American economy. I thought the drawing came out well…

Currency illustration - Washington and Arab interests.

Washington and Arab Money interests in currency illustration

… but a funny thing happened: With a weekly magazine, the turnaround time for a commissioned piece of art needs to be brief. I shipped my art to New York via Fed-Ex overnight courier, in time to meet the agreed deadline. This happened to be one of the very few times Fed-Ex let me down. Somewhere in Manhattan, the package was lost! When found, it was delivered late. As you can guess, I was mightily perturbed. In the end, it didn’t matter because my cover-story got bumped for another, late-breaking news item. Ah, the travails of a career in Illustration!

Here is a black-and-white illustration I created for the Chicago Tribune:

Drawing Currency - Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton giving the thumbs up in currency illustration

Alexander Hamilton, from the ten-spot, sporting a rakish grin and a big “Thumbs-Up”. Here’s looking at you, kid.

Anyway, that leaves us free to contemplate those currency illustrations with the substitute portraits I mentioned earlier. Here’s one of Tiger Woods I created for Sports Illustrated:

Currency Illustration - Tiger Woods

Drawing currency with Tiger Woods

Scottie Pippen, the basketball champ…

Drawing Currency - Scotty Pippen

The Pippen Bill

And, I am unsure as to the identity of this gent — can someone help me out here?

currency illustration

Mystery man on drawing of currency

Lastly, a monetary cameo of the great Stephen Colbert. This illustration was applied (somehow) to Stephen’s arm, as a tattoo, for the cover of GQ Magazine.

Drawing currency - Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert Tattoo Currency

In any case, I’m certain I’ll be drawing currency for years to come.

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