Today I had a really useful talk with print technician Jess about how to fabricate the fake money for Shop. I showed her the stuff I’ve been working on and we talked about engraving, intaglio, lithographs, etc.

I’ve been working on the money thing like it’s a personal side project; it’s been great for developing my skill in Illustrator and design. Although having said that, I think it’s quite an integral part of the whole Shop experience and I would like some input from everyone else.

The First note I made for the project I made mostly as a joke because it was a straight up copy of a £10 banknote with Martin’s face instead of the Queen.

After I showed it to Martin; we started working on making it something a lot less like an actual banknote and introducing elements which related to the idea of shop. Although a lot of it is based on in-jokes.
I have fully redone this note a few times now but I’ve constantly been making lots of small changes especially as I’ve gotten better at using Illustrator and I look back at things that could be improved.

The Money we used for mini-shop was this old design printed on normal paper using an Inkjet Printer and while it worked okay for mini-Shop; a couple of people commented on how it either didn’t go with the aesthetic of Shop; either because it wasn’t hand made or because it wasn’t cardboard. Quite a few people also gave the money back. I think one problem is that it simply lacked any intrinsic value; which is the whole point of money.
Although Banknotes are technically Fiat money having themselves no intrinsic value, they are backed up by the intrinsic money of the bank which makes them and are therefor treated as if they are intrinsic money. It’s for that reason I decided it would work better if our fake money felt like it had some intrinsic worth, by printing the money on rag paper to give it that money feel and by printing them myself using etching or whatever technique achieved the best results but wasn’t too time consuming.
So I started doing research into how money is actually made but the best information I could find was from guides about counterfeiting.

How Counterfeiting Works

. . . however, there is quite a good website for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing which has some interesting information. I like the the fact that the original plates for money are all hand engraved.

One thing about the designs I’d done which I didn’t like is that they don’t have that engraved look. That’s why I’ve began drawing the notes again from scratch; using the same etched style found on banknotes but still doing it on illustrator.

I was showing this to Jess earlier and one problem that came up was that I might not be able to print with this level of detail but aside from that it was quite good. Jess suggested I use lithograph printing. So that’s the plan for now. I’ll either find a printer which can print this level of detail onto acetate or change the design but either way, lithographs is the way to go.

Here’s Darth Vader :D

One Response to “We Print Our Own Money”

  1. fred says:


    I think that its is really good that the money is getting such consideration because it will be such a key component of the physical experience of ‘Shop’ but also is a curial element in the conceptual understanding of the work.

    we should all talk about this more.

    oh and have you spoken to ash as he has some ideas for playing with the money intrinsic and fiat value.