Hey Trolls: Guess who designed the $100 Dollar Bill

Posted in the African-American Forum

Black OurSTORY

Atlanta, GA

#1 Feb 10, 2014
A Hundred Bucks Says You Won't Read This Story
Unless you're more of a player than we think you are, that new hundred-dollar bill coming this fall won't wind up in your pocket very often. But it may be America's most popular export, the most coveted bill in the world. And the story of the new hundred still made by hand with ancient tools is the story of American money itself.

Brian Thompson's office looks like any other standard-issue government cubicle, in a bunker of a room inside the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. On the door to the room, there's a small poster of an M.C. Escher lithograph: two hands holding pens, each drawing the other's cuff. There's also a sign: OLD WORLD CRAFTSMANSHIP. BECAUSE WE CARE. Apart from the sign, there are only hints that something beautiful happens here. In Thompson's cubicle, a drawing table has been pushed against one of the half walls. Two metal trays of pencils are sitting on it, grays and colors, kept as sharp as knives. There's one long banner on the wall, a series of Escher drawings that blend seamlessly into one another, a flock of birds turning into a school of fish and back into birds again. And then there's a poster of Thompson's own latest work of art, framed in pride of place above his table: the new hundred-dollar bill.

The Artist: Brian Thompson designed the hundred, drawing many of its new images by hand at his desk.

Thompson is forty-three years old, African-American, with a closely trimmed mustache. He's dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. He was nineteen when he began working at the bureau, a talented high school art student with no formal training in currency design. The bureau is a union shop; most craft employees here arrive as apprentices, working under journeymen until they become journeymen themselves. Thompson's father was a cylinder maker, fabricating the big rollers that draw the currency paper through the presses, and one day he saw there was an opening for an "art job." It turned out the banknote designers were looking for an apprentice. Thompson put in his portfolio, and they liked what they saw. They asked for seven years of Thompson's life, and in exchange they would teach him the trade. Twenty-four years later, he has his own note.

There's a pile of loose papers in the corner of his cubicle. He digs through it until he finds what he's looking for. "There it is," he says, and he brings a single glossy white sheet under the light on his table. It was one of his first assignments, dated July 12, 1989, hand-lettering the alphabet in what he calls banknote roman, the principal font on all American money. He had to learn, by hand and by feel, its spacing, its body weight, the proportions of every shadow and serif. "These are the fundamental principles," he says. By 1992, he had worked his way up to painting things like streetscapes and bald eagles, but only in shades of gray, from the bird's white head to the blackest tips of its feathers. This is how Thompson learned to draw vignettes the illustrations of buildings on the backs of bills with depth and tone even in the absence of color. But bald eagles were only momentary diversions from the hand-lettering he had to continue to do every day for years. "Letters get you to focus on the details," Thompson says. "That was the basis of my whole education: Every single detail says something. It means something."

He digs through the pile of papers again. He pulls out a simple pencil drawing of a feather, a quill digging into a curling scroll. As a physical object, the new hundred is born again and again in that boiler in Dalton, Massachusetts. As an idea, it was born on this table, with these pencils, on this single piece of paper, with this drawing of a quill.

Photo of Mr.Thompson and more@ http://www.esquire.com/features/benjamin-hund...
Trayvons Last Skittle

Plzen, Czech Republic

#4 Feb 10, 2014
I didn't waste my valuable White time reading any of that nighur gibberish. I already know that the only thing you meaningless inconsequential slave-spawned street chimps have ever accomplished is simply making more meaningless inconsequential slave-spawned street chimps.
Ghetto Lobsterer

Switzerland

#5 Feb 10, 2014
Trayvons Last Skittle wrote:
I didn't waste my valuable White time reading any of that nighur gibberish. I already know that the only thing you meaningless inconsequential slave-spawned street chimps have ever accomplished is simply making more meaningless inconsequential slave-spawned street chimps.
...and then (hilariously) killing them.

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