Designing Currency: How Graphic Design Makes Cents

In didn't take the graphic design world long to leave its mark on our nation's currency. Recently, the $20, $10, and $5 dollar bills all saw new designs and a new $100 bill is up next. The last bill to get a makeover is the Lincoln $5 dollar bill. The new bill featured graphics in purple, as well as new watermarks and security threads in an attempt to confound high tech counterfeiters.


Graphic Design: Raising the Degree of Monetary Security

For Abraham Lincoln, the bill redesign brought about some much needed improvements. A team of graphic designers from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the Federal Reserve commissioned and emblazoned a brand new five dollar bill. The new currency had a variety of enhanced graphics that were designed to foil counterfeiters and high tech copiers alike. With laser imaging and a fashionable palette of hues, the new $5 dollar bill was a wonder of graphic design technology.


  • New Watermarks. There are two watermarks on the redesigned bill. The number "5" was added next to Lincoln's portrait and the back of the bill contains three smaller "5's" to the left of the portrait.
  • Security Thread. It runs vertically and is located to the right of the newly designed bill. When placed under ultraviolet light, the security thread glows blue.
  • Additional Color. Although color can be copied, the new bill has a light purple tint in the center of the bill that gradually fades to gray near the edges.

If you think that's impressive, wait until you see the new features of the $100 bill. This bill is the most frequently counterfeited bill in US currency--but the latest design aims to halt this. A 3-D security ribbon and color changing "Bell in the Inkwell" features feature the latest counterfeit design technology, and took more than a decade to research and develop.

Computer Animation: High Tech Art

The redesigning of our nation's currency is a real-life example of how a graphic design degree can allow you to mix technology and art. If you love creating computer images or a desktop printing project, check out a graphic design career.


Here is what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about graphic design careers:


  • Environment. Graphic designers spend their time in modern office environments or high tech computer labs.
  • Outlook. The need for graphic design professionals will grow with the national average through 2016.
  • Education. Most graphic design careers start with a four-year degree program at an accredited school.


By earning your graphic design degree, you can turn your love of computers and artistic talents into a rewarding career.



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