This self-initiated project was inspired in part by W. A. Dwiggins’ 1932 proposal Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency. This experimental investigation was also created to showcase and promote a new type family recently designed by our studio – Ludd.
I wanted to try and retain the spirit of the current US bills while contrasting the more iconic elements with a humorous look at American history and its myths. Formally I was reacting to the conservative nature and blandness of our bills, trying to develop a more dynamic composition and impression without losing the narratives.
This three-part, letterpress currency series ($5, $10 and $20) was an exploration into color – how to use color to develop a dynamic single composition while developing a system and family of bills. The production included several passes through the press and these bills are built of 6 to 8 different spot colors, some florescent and some specially mixed.
Being both designer and client provided me with several distinctive advantages. While representing the dynamic quality of the typeface through the letterpress process I was also able to use an older technology with contemporary software towards a unique application and result. I wanted the halftones to have perfect registration and details, the layers to be dense and complex, all with zero impression. When first looking at these prints most people believe they are inkjet prints! These prints acted as both a teaser for the type family and as a visual representative of the idiosyncratic nature of this quirky typographic system and its complexities.