Tom Stebbins is a banknote artist with a unique an interesting background.
It’s no secret that I have admired Tom’s work for a long time now. I met him at one of the FUN shows (actually was on the table next to him) and I was amazed with the quality of his work.
Firstly, I had no idea that all his notes are hand drawn, and when you look closely you can see that he builds the picture by using dashes, which is the way banknotes were designed in the days of yore.
Secondly, I had no idea of the work (and cost) involved in printing banknotes. Tom has had a lot of experience in the banknote printing world. He not only creates his own notes, but also helps with improving other artists’ designs. I know of several artists who have sent their designs to Tom for printing and “auditing” and they told me that he made many subtle changes that enhanced the designs considerably.
For this blog, I managed to get some background information on how he started creating banknotes.
Now, I don’t want any libel suits, but his mentor was some who was simply called, ‘Boggs.’ Boggs is renowned in the banknote art world who lived a colorful life, which sadly ended just after we saw him at the 2017 FUN show.
If you get time, it is definitely worth reading Boggs’ Wikipedia entry. It is a fascinating read and it confirms many of the “Boggs” stories that Tom told me.
Since he went out on his own, Tom has created beautiful notes and has worked in collaboration with many other artists, including Franck Medina (see Franck’s portrait below which was drawn by Tom). Franck is the creator of the Kamberra series of notes and has himself created a number of quality fun note series. His latest Portuguese notes are simply stunning. Franck contracts his work to just one person and I am privileged to be able to buy these notes to offer.
Tom has other collaborations in the works, including the Viking note series, that was originally due in late summer 2017, but will now be released as a special issue at the 2018 Fun Show. (I have learned — really slowly — that in the banknote artist world the expected and actual dates of issue are very widely separated by months.) I have seen some of preliminary work on these “Viking” notes and I am excited to see the finished product (and maybe actually get on the day of release). Tom gave me limited permission to showcase a small part of this work in progress as this series is a collaboration with Matej (who I have featured on my website before and is also a talented banknote artist).
So, just as a taste of the amazing series of notes that should be out soon (“soon” as what banknote artists consider “soon,” not “soon” as the rest of us understand it).
Another popular series created by Tom Stebbins is his American State Fun Note series. To date, twenty nine state notes have been released. California (state note #30) and Wisconsin (state note #31) are due out “soon.”
Tom has worked on a number of popular series including drawings he contributed for the Antarctica series, the Federation of North America notes. He also designed, created, and printed local currency for Eugene, Oregon. The two notes in this series are called “Skinners” and are accepted as legal tender within the city limits.
I hope to come back sometime and add more to this mini biography of Tom, as there is so much more to say about this great banknote artist (and for those who know him personally, he is not only a talented artist, but also a wonderful person). There are so many notes to feature, but I’ll sign off by showing one of my favorites (and his I think).