Project: "Letterpress Currency Redesign Project"
Designer(s): Ned Drew, United States
Category: Print, Professional
User's Profile : User's Profile

Entry Description: This small, self-initiated project was inspired by the 1932 proposal Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency, Particularly in Point of Its Design by W. A. Dwiggins, a “pamphlet” that imagines the quality of design for the US currency system matching “the nation’s status in the world of affairs.” In this exploration of the US currency system I tried to retain some of the visual vocabulary found within our bills but re-imagined with a distinct approach conceptually, technically and formally. Reacting to the conservative nature and blandness of our bills, readers are offered humorous perspectives that act as cultural “currency” themselves, an environment of American myths and lighthearted cultural facts that stimulate a forum for cultural exchange. The conceptual approaches are as follows: Mixing Washington’s “wooden teeth” and “cherry tree” myths to reconceptualized a new narrative, “revenge of the tree”. In this interpretation, the chopped tree’s ancestors get their vengeance by returning as hurtful and ugly dentures. Combining Lincoln’s controversial “Log Cabin” birthplace and the invention of Lincoln Logs by John Lloyd Wright, the myth of the “self-made man” from humble beginnings is born and then reemphasized by the “make-it-yourself” invention of Wright. Roosevelt’s act of compassion towards a cub bear inspires Morris Michtom to create the “Teddy Bear” establishing the Roosevelt myth of a “lover of the outdoors”. The process of using letterpress allowed for intriguing experimentation with type and color combinations built of 6 to 8 different spot colors. This series was in part a color exploration and an opportunity for us to showcase a new type family designed by our studio – Ludd. My formal challenge was to create dynamic compositions, integrating various iconic elements and typography within a new vibrant and contemporary vocabulary. Ultimately creating a system of bills that stimulates the viewer while staging intriguing and provocative narratives.

About the Designer/Company
Professor Ned Drew teaches various graphic design courses and the history of graphic design at Rutgers University-Newark. Professor Drew is the director of The Design Consortium, a student/teacher run design studio that focuses on non-profit, community-based projects. Drew is also a founding partner and creative director of the multi-disciplinary design firm, BRED based in NYC (www.brednation.com). Drew is also the co-editor of Design Education in Progress: Process and Methodology, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, an academic book series dedicated to the study of design pedagogy. A student project and additional process work were recently included in Typographic Design: Form and Communication by Carter/Day/Meggs, 4th and 5th editions. In 2005, Professor Drew co-authored BY ITS COVER: Modern American Book Cover Design through Princeton Architectural Press. His work has been included in several books, including the 6th edition of Typographic Design: Form and Communication, Graphic Design Referenced, US Design 1975-2000, Working with Computer Type, the AIGA’s Rethinking Design 3: Speaking Volumes, Graphic Design Solutions, Color Management for Logos and 2D: Visual Basics for Designers and has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Type Directors Club, International Design Awards, The Art Directors Club, the FPO Awards, the University and Colleges Designer Association and the American Association of Museums as well as Graphis, Communication Arts, Print, How and Creativity magazines.