Independent Currencies is a portfolio site of artist Tom Badley, showcasing banknote and security document design.

“I’ve been interested in the design of money for as long as I can remember. Banknote design is the convergence of technologies - holographic, multiple printing techniques, paper making - and art. For a designer, the banknote tests every known skill set; one small piece of paper concentrates typography, engraving, colour theory, visual harmony, pattern design, and image manipulation, all of which must satisfy the unique technical specifications of each project.

My one of my earliest design memories is trying to copy UK banknotes. Of course, being 7 years old, I didn’t know the intricacies of banknote production! I then remember making ‘sheets’ of designs using a photocopier, which I cut and coloured by hand. When I got my first version of Photoshop at age 14, I couldn’t stop designing.

After school, I was accepted into the world-renowned Slade School of Fine Art, London. I produced a broad range of work - sculpture, video production, drawing, illustration, music, painting, and writing - which culminated in a book. I was selected for an exchange program, at the Cooper Union School for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York. My experience in New York opened my mind; the people I met and the ideas I was exposed to - both in Cooper Union and outside - were catalysts for the ideas I have today.

I graduated in the Summer of 2008. When the markets crashed, it reinvigorated my interest in banknote design. I had the intention of producing alternative currencies - an intent that was shared by others, as people from all over the world started to contact me, asking me to work on their local currency projects.

Whilst working on these projects, I was using the little knowledge of banknote production I had, taking design cues from my personal banknote collection, and the extensive collections I was handling, as I worked in an auction house with a dedicated banknote department at the time.

Eventually, I was headhunted by one of the largest printers of banknotes in the world. It was there that I truly learnt about about the technical aspects of security document design and banknote printing. The role exposed me to the real world of banknote design, and the ancillary processes of banknote production, thanks to the mentors I met and the places I travelled to. With that said, I’m always learning, as this is a constantly evolving space with new applications and challenges. I welcome these challenges, and love exploring new creative possibilities in security design.”

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A few of the latest words on currency, from around the world.