Money Revamp

By Margaret Rhodes

What if we used money “as an educational tool?” Purrington wonders. “And not to reinforce such a patriotic bond with the country, but more of a global bond with mankind.” For his master’s thesis at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, Purrington (who is an American, from Idaho) gave US currency a top-to-bottom, front-to-back overhaul.

The familiar faces of Lincoln, Jackson and the rest are gone, replaced by a more colorful set of images. Purrington wanted to introduce imagery that had to do with systems, rather than dated iconography, because that’s really what money is about. It’s the connecting synapse between a huge number of systems that keep our country churning day by day. Each of the bills (Purrington’s redesign includes the $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes) has two very different sides: one side is a muted, Escher-esque drawing of a technical or scientific subject matter. The other side has a colorful, real world manifestation of the black-and-white reverse.

For example: one side of the $10 note sports an illustration of a bucky ball. Its other side has a drawing of gleaming skyscraper. The $50 note has a labyrinthine drawing of a circuit board; flip it over, and there’s an astronaut’s helmet, reflecting a view of the space station. “I wanted to play on things that we might not always think about, like neurons being involved in farming or agriculture,” Purrington says of his $5 bill design. “As soon as you pull away and look at farms from a bird’s eye view you begin to see how intricate and detailed that decision-making process is.”

Purrington also did away with the basic layout of the American bill. “Every cartoon or pictogram you see of money is a rectangle with a circle and four denominations, one in each corner,” he says. His new notes look more like the Euro, or the Swedish krona. This makes sense given that early on, Purrington was inspired by Switzerland’s model for introducing newly designed currency every 20 years. “They give them a theme to work with and that changes every 20 years, so the money people have has more to do with spreading a message.” That 20-year interval is worth noting, he points out. It means every generation of youngsters grows up with new money.




[visited on 28 November 2014]


FAT1: Research

I’ve finally submitted my first assignment which was the Annotated Bibliography and Critical Analysis for Research & Enquiry subject about a month ago. It has been quite tough so far, trying to look for relevant references from different sources. Reading took a lot of my time as well since I had to know whether the content suits my keyword that I have chosen. Now that part has been done, it is time for me to continue on to my project for FAT1. Initially, I have an idea in designing postage stamps based on my keyword and also as a part to promote the indigenous tribe in my hometown but  after having a Skype conversation with my tutor, I have decided to change my idea and decided to design a mini booklet instead. My focus will on promoting the ‘authentic’ goods that can be found in the local open market. I will explain more about this in my next post.

But here are some design style preferences that I want my booklet to look like. In a way, I wanted it to look more ‘raw’ hence I still wanted to apply hand lettering and my own painting in the booklet. More progress to come!

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 3.03.41 PM

El Palauet Living Barcelona BY MARNICH.

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El Palauet Living Barcelona BY MARNICH.


Festival de Jazz de la Garriga 2014 BY CHAPPARO CREATIVE STUDIO


Express Your Sympathy by Natalie Balnova.


Express Your Sympathy by Natalie Balnova.


(visited on 28 November 2014)

Exoticism Research: Part 4

Interesting article that I read from The Star online on Sabah-based art activist Pangrok Sulap and their recent exhibition in Japan. What’s nice to know is that their artworks have gained interest out of Malaysia and that is such a great accomplishment seeing that they come from a small district, Ranau in Sabah. I also like the fact that their artworks that they have produced challenges the current issues that is happening in Sabah like political, economic and not forgetting their implementation of cultural heritage in their artworks, in this case the indigenous people in Sabah. 

Sabah-based art collective finds audience in Tokyo

(written Daryl Goh for The Star Online)

Pangrok Sulap, a Sabah-based art activist collective, is fast gaining a niche following abroad and attracting punk-minded kindred spirits.The collective’s DIY aesthetic, which combine art and social action, is predominantly voiced through woodcut prints, posters and banners. Pangrok Sulap’s work is the subject of an exhibition now on at the creative space Irregular Rhythm Asylum in Tokyo. The show, curated by Risa Tokunaga, a lecturer/writer from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, collects 20 pieces of Pangrok Sulap’s woodcut creations made in the last two years. “Pangrok” means punk rock, while “sulap” means a farmer’s hut. Risa discovered Pangrok Sulap’s work late last year while doing research on DIY art scenes in South-East Asia. This year she made three visits – research and study trips – to the collective’s homebase in Ranau, a mountainous district situated at the foot of Mount Kinabalu.

“There is a growing interest towards the DIY art scenes and underground communities in South-East Asia (especially Indonesia, Malaysia) in Japan. Themes of empowerment, education and giving voice to the marginalised communities are universal in nature and they resonante with a wider audience despite language barriers,” says Risa in an e-mail interview.

Pangrok Sulap’s core members include artists/designers Jerome Manjat, Rizo Leong and McFeddy, while a loose collective of members help out with its outreach programmes through the small towns of Sabah. Risa documented the group’s work and the process behind it (through art and short film) for this Tokyo show.

“What I am trying to do is to translate and articulate Pangrok Sulap’s themes to a Japanese audience. The group’s work is something that people in KL or Tokyo need to listen to. Be it marginalised communities in Sabah or Okinawa, we have to take notice of their struggles,” she adds.

Risa says that Pangrok Sulap, which was formed in 2010 in Ranau, has made significant strides as a DIY movement which balances community engagement and social protest.

“Through its poster art, Pangrok Sulap has promoted debate, questioned (Sabah state) policies and advocated change. They have made themselves relevant to the times as their culture and surroundings start to change with modernisation,” says Risa.

At this exhibition, a Tokyo-based woodblock print collective Anti-War, Anti-Nuclear and Arts of Block-print Collective (A3BC) has expressed interest in a collaboration with Pangrok Sulap. Risa also mentions the importance of Indonesian art activists like Marjinal and Taring Padi, both have inspired a new generation of woodcut artists with a social awareness in South-East Asia.

For the Japanese audience, as Risa mentions, it will be very exciting to see how they relate to topics like Sabah locals priced out of climbing Mount Kinabalu, mega-dam projects that threaten to wipe out communities, the “IC Project”, the loss of culture, sigup (rolled-up cigarette) sellers overtaken by illegal cigarette traders, Kaamatan festivity, Borneo beads and why the language of unity remains central to Pangrok Sulap’s mission.

In a separate interview, Pangrok Sulap’s Rizo Leong says, “We never thought that anybody outside of Ranau would be paying attention to what we do. It’s great to find supporters of our work outside of Malaysia. Ours is a struggle that will continue and our art will tell the stories of rural Sabahan life and her people left in the margins … that they must not be forgotten or ignored.”


This recent Pangrok Sulap woodcut print, which is on show at an exhibition in Tokyo, addresses the plight of the indigenous Dusun people in Ulu Papar, a community of small villages near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.


Tingaton in dusun language is a betel leaf that is usually sold by the old folks people in Sabah. Clever usage of wordplay between ‘climbathon’ which is a Mt. Kinabalu race that is held every year and also the word Tingaton.


Endangered animals.


The effect of illegal logging towards wildlife.

References: (visited on 5 November 2014)

Image source: (visited on 5 November 2014)

What is authenticity?

Insightful point of view on the perception of authenticity in art.

Research & Enquiry

In an article for the Design Observer, Michael Beirut (2005) explores what makes something look ‘real’ or ‘genuine’. Some designers and illustrators make efforts to include markers of authenticity in their work, such as personal flourishes and imperfections. Postmodern graphic designer, Tibor Kalman, found authenticity in vernacular design. He felt that design produced by those without formal design education (such as signs in shop windows, event flyers, etc.) had a genuine ‘innocence’ that was eroded by learning about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design.


Beirut seems to equate authenticity to innovation, implying that copying is, by definition, inauthentic. This raises questions about the value of tradition. Isn’t tradition authentic? When designers or illustrators try to achieve an ‘authentic’ style, their first step is usually investigating the historical origins of a style.


The commercial arts (graphics and illustration) have entered an era of cultural appropriation, in which styles are readily borrowed from elsewhere. Borrowing from another…

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Grande Odalisque

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814.

One of the most prominent art piece that portray the element of ‘Exoticism’ was this art piece by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres called ‘Grande Odalisque’, painted in 1814. Such as interesting piece to study and to get an understanding on how ‘exoticism’ has been applied in paintings from centuries ago. Clearly, eastern influence played a role in this art piece as well seeing that Ingres uses his own imagination to picture how an Odalisque lady is inside the harem.

Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque, is an oil painting of 1814 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres depicting an odalisque, or concubine. Ingres’ contemporaries considered the work to signify Ingres’ break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism.

The painting was commissioned by Napoleon‘s sister, Queen Caroline Murat of Naples, and finished in 1814. Ingres drew upon works such as Dresden Venus by Giorgione, and Titian‘s Venus of Urbino as inspiration for his reclining nude figure, though the actual pose of a reclining figure looking back over her shoulder is directly drawn from the 1809 Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David.

Ingres portrays a concubine in languid pose as seen from behind with distorted proportions. The small head, elongated limbs, and cool color scheme all reveal influences from Mannerists such as Parmigianino, whose Madonna with the Long Neck was also famous for anatomical distortion.

I also found a video from Khan Academy explaining in more detail about this painting.


(visited November 4th 2014)

Exoticism Research: Part 3

I have been reading a book that I found from the library named “Beyond Orientalism: How west won over by Islamic art” This book was produced by Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. It basically tell the readers the history on how and when the west adapted the influence of eastern art, in this case Islamic art into their own artworks and eventually called it ‘orient’. I found a graphic designer through Behance named Wafa Said who’s from Egypt. I thought her works on blending western famous cartoon characters with oriental elements are nice. I like the implementation of basic design elements in it as well such as dots, lines and shapes to create patterns around the character. The outcome has a new oriental feel in it and it represents well in the term of ‘east meets west’








(visited on 5/10.2014)

Inspiration: Maira Kalman (My Favorite Things)

I would love to own this illustrated book (maybe I shall get it during Christmas?) by Maira Kalman named My Favorite Things. This is how I envision my ‘guide book’ would look like for my MA studies. It’s more quirky, fun, colourful, lots of handwritten/handrawn stuff and of course I would also love to add more graphics element in it. But I really should get my bibliography and research done first before anything else! Not going to lie, but it is quite a struggle. ‘Exoticism’ is not an easy word to do reaseach on but I shall persevere and work hard on it though the deadline is so near now *yikes*

From Maira Kalman, the author of the bestsellers The Principles of Uncertainty and The Elements of Style, comes this beautiful pictorial and narrative exploration of the significance of objects in our lives, drawn from her personal artifacts, recollections, and selections from the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

With more than fifty original paintings and featuring bestselling author and illustrator Maira Kalman’s signature handwritten prose, My Favorite Things is a poignant and witty meditation on the importance of both quotidian and unusual objects in our culture and private worlds.

Created in the same colorful, engaging, and insightful style as her previous works, which have won her fans around the world, My Favorite Things features more than fifty objects from both the Cooper-Hewitt and Kalman’s personal collections: the pocket watch Abraham Lincoln was carrying when he was shot, original editions of Winnie-the-Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, a handkerchief in memoriam of Queen Victoria, an Ingo Maurer lamp, Rietveld’s Z chair, a pair of Toscanini’s pants, and photographs Kalman has taken of people walking towards and away from her. A pictorial index provides photographs of the actual objects and a short description of them, enhancing the reading experience.

As it speaks to the universal experience and importance of beloved objects in our lives—big and small, famous and private—this unique work is a fresh way of examining and understanding our society, history, culture, and ourselves.





Book is available in Amazon.


(visited 4/10/2014)