Tom Badley's Second series is a departure from the faces of Crypto we saw in his first series “Avatars of the great awakening”. Instead in this line of work we see historical figures vital to the America identity. The notes are inspired by the DAI Crypto currency created by MakerDAO. DAI is a USD backed stable coin and as such Badley has focused this series one those that have made America the country that it is today. The first three Notes have been released and feature; Harriet Tubman on the 50, Samuel slater on the 100 and Christopher Columbus on the 200.
There are two more notes to be created in this series a 500 and 1000. To Tom the notes have an important meaning at each value and each face is carefully chosen for how they represent these values. 50 is Freedom, 100 Industry, 200 Mythology, 500 Consumerism and 1000 Finance.
After the huge success of Tom’s first series these new Dai Notes are sure to become extremely collectible. They are highly limited and a great price for an artist of this caliber.
To own the notes head here: https://opensea.io/assets/blockchainartexchange-v2?query=DAI
With his new series underway we sat down with Tom to Ask a few Questions;
- What inspired this collection?
This collection was inspired by the DAI Stablecoin, as the premier cryptocurrency with a one-to-one exchange with the Dollar. Just like DAI creates a synergy between the Dollar and cryptocurrency, I was interested in exploring this synergy in an artistic sense. So on the one hand, you have DAI, which is mostly a blank slate, and then you have the Dollar, which is rich in history, politics, emotion, aspiration, future vision. The world turns on the Dollar. As I explored this synergy, these aspects influenced the design.
- Why DAI, why the USD?
First, the idea of a ‘stablecoin banknote’ is a practical oxymoron. It’s the financial equivalent of a chocolate teapot, kind of absurd. Cash is fiat, then cryptocurrency in cash form that is one-to-one exchangeable for fiat is useless. It’s like-for-like. But that’s exactly why I’m starting an art project based on the ‘Stablecoin Banknote’ - its ONLY possible function is art. Aside from art, it is useless. So it’s perfect! As the first ‘legitimate’ design series inspired by a Stablecoin, it marks an important and unique place in the cryptoart space. It’s one of those projects that was asking for the right artist to create it.
The other stablecoins will be added to this ongoing project, but the world’s reserve currency seemed an obvious starting point. As NFTs, they’re the only digitally rare artworks that I know of that not only explicitly uses a major Stablecoin as inspiration, but also self-referentially acts as ‘digital money’ - they’re sold for the ‘face value’, and each NFT is uniquely serial numbered. They also function as a MVP for a physical banknote - the technology and know-how to do that is at my fingertips. However, this particular series will only be printed on request, by interested individuals, on two conditions: 1) that the printed ‘banknotes’ are purchased in the from of uncut sheets, 2) that the sheets are never cut, and never allowed to circulate as cash. This is art that sales so close to counterfeiting, if not, pulling the whiskers of the US fed. It’s in the eye of the beholder whether this is harmless craft, or a dangerously transgressive cash product that threatens the viability of currency itself.
- How long does it take to make a portrait?
Portrait engravers usually take around 4 weeks - I’m able to complete a full portrait in 1 week. It depends on whether the portrait is for a digital environment, or whether it has to be fully engraved onto a physical plate. The engraving process is far more technical, and precise, with many stages. But all being well, I could draw, engrave, create a plate, and print within a fortnight.
- What is your ritual when you get ready to create? (your process)
For technical, highly structured work like this, everything is project-managed. So my ritual usually starts with a spreadsheet! Everything has to slot into a production schedule. I use any means possible to organise, to single-handedly expedite projects that would otherwise take years of teamwork and consideration.
- Why have you picked the people you have for the designs?
I’m calling this the ‘DAI Historical Series’, because they’re all historical figures. I wanted people with some connection to the Dollar itself, people who have contributed to the Dollar’s mythology, and have become myths themselves. The choices are also sober and sensible - I didn’t choose anyone with a reputation for scandal. There are so many people that could be on them - they’re for another a series… Probably the most controversial in Columbus, because of his connection with genocide. Yet, the Columbus name is everywhere in the US; he is a founding American myth, built on exploration, conquest, and finance, which are essential touch-points to the Dollar. Samuel Slater is credited as the originator of the American industrial revolution. Charles Dow and Edward Jones were the creators of the Dow Jones Industrial Average - representing the crown jewels of American industry and global finance. Probably the least obvious is Harriet Tubman - an abolitionist who freed slaves. She was proposed as a possible replacement for Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill in 2017. The decision has apparently been shelved, but regardless, that connects her to US currency, and so the mythology of the Dollar.
-Who is Tom Badley?
I use my experience in the banknote industry as a way to express our unique historical moment, our relationship to money, and to give cryptocurrency the aesthetic and tangible gravitas it deserves. I do this both through art, in the form of NFTs, and highly technical print work, as well as through product design, creating cash and cash-like products for financial institutions. There is a difference, but sometimes the line blurs. I’m currently based in my print and design studio in London.
-How did you train to create such detailed work?
I grew up with hardcore art training - perspective, line work, life drawing - from mentors and groups that I joined. I learned to draw from life from age 12, and befriended local artists who showed me drawing techniques. I was picked to attend the Slade School of Fine Art, London. I tried my hand at drawing, painting, music, video, film, graphic design, sculpture. I even collaborated with other departments in UCL, like engineering, advanced medical imaging. I produced and broadcast an hourly slot on the student radio station; I operated on animal organs in the neighbouring Cruciform building, in their surgery; I researched differential topology in the maths department, and electromagnetism in the physics department… the only thing I didn’t do was printing! Printing seemed too messy, too fiddly, and I just didn’t see the upside. I toyed with banknote design, until I was headhunted by a big four company, who produce half of the world’s banknotes. I learnt every commercial print technique, including holography, as well as how to design for these techniques. It was like taking a military-level course in printing - military, because these techniques aren’t commercially available.
Obviously, if they were, everyone could print money. I left the industry to pursue my own business. I took short courses in printing - it was only then that I knew how much I knew. I’m able to apply techniques that aren’t taught, to a level that isn’t widely understood. Not only that, but knew how to design for these techniques - nothing is straightforward, which is why I love it. In terms of portraiture, I never formally trained to engrave portraits. In the industry, I sat next to the engraver, and absorbed everything he was doing. The training is quite rigorous - you have to go to an expensive school in Italy, and go through the whole process. I knew what technical questions to ask, so I took that knowledge with me.
- Any advice for young artists or creators?
‘Why’ is more important than ‘What’. Why do you want to create? You could do anything with your time. Why is it art? If the answer is ‘why not?’, you don’t know why yet. It sounds cliche but you have to connect to your heart, and establish an honest relationship with yourself. You simply can’t afford to pretend, role play, endure, or turn away from what you honestly want to do, because that’s the basis of deathbed regrets, when it’s too late. When you’re young, you’re easily manipulated by the influence of parents, teachers, friends, media - its easy to underestimate that.
The only way to short circuit this manipulation is to spend time in isolation - switch off from everything, and listen. I would say that if you can do that, then there’s a great opportunity that will gradually appear in front of you… all the established narratives of our culture are falling away. If you can establish your own truth, in isolation, there’s the opportunity: to create a new avant garde - not based on victimhood, whining, complaining, protest - but based on the rule of self-responsibility