Thomas Wojak makes large cash – Occasions-Herald

It’s not that Thomas Wojak has a chrematophobia. It’s not an aversion to sour cream.

It’s the fear of money.

While the Vallejo printer would likely welcome a wad of cash in any denomination, it does have an issue with greenbacks. Mainly the green part.

Yes, the currency in red, white and blue is one color. As an artist who wears a business card, Wojak lives from colors. All of that green-is-good with your basic unchanged Founding Fathers and Presidents is pretty good, let Wojak explain.

“Boring,” he said.

It’s not that Wojak is asking for 3D holograms of Ben Franklin flying a kite. It’s just that the United States is falling flat compared to other countries.

“As a visual artist and as a printer, I asked myself why our paper currency is so boring compared to other countries,” said Wojak on the phone.

When these pieces aren’t sold at an exhibition in Oakland, Thomas Wojak exhibits them in his studio in downtown Vallejo. (Courtesy photo)

Wojak researched and studied the creative lack of money “for a while and wondered why we only honor dead presidents or dead founding fathers. Other countries honor important personalities in their culture. It could be an architect or a social justice person. Look at the paper money in other countries and you will see a big difference. “

It was motivation enough for Wojak to colorize and enlarge some invoices himself to create an exhibition that will be on sale from September 11th. 24 at the compound in Oakland. What is not sold is on display at Wojak’s The WORKS in downtown Vallejo on Georgia Street.

Paper money was olive green and black because of the technology, Wojak said.

“Initially, paper money wasn’t printed until around the Civil War and they didn’t have the option to print more than one color,” he said.

“They haven’t made any progress since then,” says Wojak.

The print maker admits that the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent focus has been on establishing an anti-counterfeiting lawsuit.

Even so, “other countries are now printing their money on plastic. It’s more durable and harder to counterfeit, ”said Wojak.

A quick lesson:

In 1861, when he needed money to fund the Civil War, Congress approved the issuance of Demand Notes in $ 5, $ 10, and $ 20 face values. The demand banknotes were so named because they could be redeemed for coins “on demand”.

The first dollar bill was issued in 1862 as a legal tender note with a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln. The National Bank Act of 1863 introduced a national banking system and a single national currency.

In 1963, the Federal Reserve began producing one-dollar notes to replace the one-dollar silver certificate. The border design on the front has been completely redesigned and the serial numbers and the treasure seal have been printed in green ink.

George Washington gets a new face in Thomas Wojak’s exhibition “Bad Money”. (Courtesy photo)

The $ 5 bill with Lincoln’s mug was first issued in 1929, the same year as the $ 10 bill with Alexander Hamilton. Andrew Jackson first appeared at the $ 20 in 1928.

The government set a goal of putting a woman on $ 20 by 2020 to celebrate the centenary of the 19th Amendment and give women the right to vote. Harriet Tubman has been selected to replace Hamilton. And then it wasn’t. Presumably the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” – with President Donald Trump in a minor role – pushed Tubman aside. She’s reportedly now auditioning for a $ 10 bill through 2026, though the Biden government is believed to be speeding up the bureaucratic process that appears to be the only color that isn’t green.

“Go to other countries. They’re just more visually exciting in the way they handle paper money, and they change it a lot depending on what’s going on in the country, ”said Wojak.

Meanwhile, back in the boring USA, “let’s stick with what we have,” Wojak shrugged.

So the artist took clippings of the bills, enlarged them and added bright colors while thinking, “Let’s push the boundaries a little bit”.

It is not as if that never happened, repeated Wojak, referring to China, South Africa and Switzerland as examples of money “that is more complicated and more colorful”.

Add Mexico and Brazil, which have “wonderful” money.

Wojak said he always looked at the US currency and thought, “Can’t we do better?”

There may even be “special runs” of a denomination in rainbow colors for Gay Pride Month, Wojak offered, admitting the US could stay safe to avoid controversy.

Then again: “Where are the women?” he said.

Although coins have changed, “How much attention is paid to coins? We’re looking at our paper currency, ”said Wojak.

With the technology available, there’s no reason they can’t “pile up” the colors in US currency, he said.

And which denomination would Wojak put his own face on?

“Probably the $ 2 bill,” he said. “That’s all I can afford these days.”

“Bad Money” by Thomas Wojak, September 11th – October 24th, in the Compound Gallery, Oakland and in November at The WORKS, 437 Georgia St., Vallejo. Further information is available at

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