Amidst the digital age’s impersonal transactions, the physical currency stands out as a canvas showcasing a country’s cultural and historical tapestry. These bills, crafted by artists often unknown, navigate the daily ebb and flow of commerce, yet their artistic value frequently goes unnoticed. Ohm Chanitrapirak, also known as ER-RoR, is a distinguished figure who infuses this underappreciated art form with vitality. Straddling the line between age-old craft and modern technology, Chanitrapirak is responsible for the detailed artistry on Thailand’s banknotes, blending practicality with rich aesthetic value.
The Rise Of A Master Engraver
Ohm Chanitrapirak’s artistic odyssey began at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Design, where he specialized in Printmaking, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2011. His career kicked off in graphic design, working on diverse projects from pocketbooks to documentaries. A pivotal moment unfolded in 2013 when a family connection opened the door to a unique opportunity. Reflecting on this turning point, Chanitrapirak shares, “In late 2013, I heard from my father, an engraver at Banknote Printing Works under the Bank of Thailand, about a job opening for an engraver. Intrigued by the challenge, I applied, was accepted, and have been part of the unit since 2014.”
The job, however, was the beginning of an intensive apprenticeship. Chanitrapirak’s dedication to mastering hand metal engraving involved starting from the basics. My first two years as an engraver, I had learnt and practiced hard on metal engraving by hand. My practice began with basic stages of engraving equipment preparation, application of engraving tools, such as how to sharpen engraving knives and prepare, polish and clean copper plates. Then, I learnt how to place an engraving knife at the best different angles to produce various line patterns, including straight lines, curved lines, circle lines, dash lines and gradient lines” he explains. His path not only honored traditional practices but also embraced technological advancements, thus encapsulating the core of his artistic philosophy: a fusion of the traditional with the cutting-edge.
The Artistic Influence: Combining Traditional And Modern Techniques
Chanitrapirak stands as a figure who embodies the dynamic evolution of art, merging time-honored techniques with modern digital tools. He reflects, “My artistic style has always been defined by a monochromatic palette. This preference, rooted in my university days, led me to major in printmaking, focusing on etching techniques that emphasized the stark beauty of black, white, and gray.”
This commitment to the monotone form follows him to this day, a distinct preference for the interplay of light and shadow over the complexity of colour. His early academic choices—eschewing colourful mediums for the subtlety of grayscale—allowed him to refine his technique in printmaking, where the artistry of line work could truly shine.
Chanitrapirak’s artistic journey is deeply influenced by his father, a master engraver whose comprehensive skills extended well beyond the Bank of Thailand’s engraving department. This rich familial legacy offered Ohm a robust foundation in the art of precision and patience, key tenets in the world of metal engraving.
“Undoubtedly, my artistic styles and creative ideas have been profoundly influenced by my father, particularly his line portrait drawings. Nonetheless, there is a stark contrast between my father’s works and those of mine. My father’s production process of each metal engraving work was entirely made by hand and usually time-consuming. My works, on the other hand, with a combined application of some traditional engraving techniques passed down from him, are much more quickly and conveniently done with the help of the digital drawing computer program, which also facilitates easier modifications and more detailed line patterns drawing upon requirements”.
In his professional role, Ohm has seamlessly integrated digital technology into his creative process. “The computer-generated images are transformed into line portraits that grace Thailand’s banknotes,” he states, indicating a harmonious blend of artistic integrity and technological advancement. This approach not only respects the tradition of his craft but also addresses the modern requirements of banknote design, where aesthetic elegance must be married to technical security.
Through this synthesis, Ohm Chanitrapirak continues to honor his father’s legacy while charting a new course in the realm of artistic engraving, one that respects the past yet eagerly embraces the potential of the future.
Mastering Banknote Design: A Fusion Of Art And Security
Designing national currency is a delicate art that Ohm Chanitrapirak approaches with a deep sense of responsibility. Beyond aesthetic allure, each banknote must be a fortress against counterfeiting, integrating advanced security features without compromising its beauty. Ohm’s skill lies in weaving the nation’s story into the very fabric of its currency, ensuring every design is as secure as it is symbolic.
This careful orchestration of elements—where artistry meets security technology—isn’t just practical; it’s a creation of heritage, something tangible that embodies the national spirit. Collectors and the public alike find value in Ohm’s work, which resonates on a level that transcends the financial. His designs have sparked conversations among peers, inspiring a collective renaissance in banknote design that bridges tradition and modernity. This impact underscores the timeless nature of his craft, even as digital advancements redefine the boundaries of possibility.
Embracing The Digital Shift In Engraving
Chanitrapirak stands at the forefront of a pivotal shift in the art of engraving. As the digital age revolutionizes the field, Ohm harnesses its power, blending centuries-old techniques with the capabilities of modern technology. He acknowledges the transformation, stating, “However, in today’s modern world that demands all works done quickly, the latest technology of digital drawing by computer has been adopted to create portrait images in replacement of metal engraving by hand.”
The integration of digital methods sustains the integrity of traditional engraving while introducing unprecedented efficiency and versatility. Ohm’s approach is a testament to the enduring relevance of his art in a rapidly changing world, ensuring that the storied practice of banknote engraving not only endures but also evolves.
The Impact On Collectors And The General Public
Chanitrapirak’s engravings have not only captivated fellow artists and industry professionals but have also garnered a dedicated following among collectors and everyday observers. His work invites a closer look at the familiar yet often overlooked art of banknotes, inspiring a deeper appreciation for this medium. “ I have always received positive feedback from viewers of my facebook page. Many viewers usually made similar comments that they liked my line portrait images as they are uncommon and can capture some unique characteristics of line images on banknotes, making them a high-value artwork,” Ohm shares, expressing his delight in the varied perspectives his art receives. His ability to influence public perception and elevate the craft of currency engraving is a testament to his skill and the universal appeal of his artistry.
Charting The Course: Legacy And Innovation
Ohm Chanitrapirak casts his gaze forward, invigorated by the limitless possibilities for innovation. His dedication to continual growth is woven into the very fabric of his artistic philosophy: “Line portrait images on banknotes are high-value works of art, whether they are created by metal engraving by hand or the digital drawing computer program. All can evidently demonstrate the personalities, statuses, moods, and feelings of the individuals appearing on banknotes, while simultaneously reflecting the spirit of the artists who have created them. Moreover, they can depict the history, beliefs, culture, and traditions, as well as the social conditions of countries.
That’s why I wish to add new dimensions to the line portrait drawing style on banknotes. To this end, I have adjusted my line portrait images to appear more relaxed than those in the conventional style. Drawing portraits in the banknote style is always challenging, as it involves depicting people from all walks of life, with their distinct facial expressions, eyes, and wrinkles.”
He envisions his legacy as a beacon for future craftsmen, aiming to ignite a fervor for innovation in the upcoming generation of engravers. He asserts, “I am determined to continuously create and promote this type of artwork, preserving it for future generations who may use it as a guideline for their own artistic creations.” Chanitrapirak’s ambition is to meld the revered techniques of the past with the transformative power of modern technology.
Chanitrapirak’s life’s work transcends personal accomplishment, marking the sustained relevance of artisanal skill in a digital world. His banknote art, a celebration of national identity and history, serves as a narrative for what artistry can achieve. Through his commitment to creativity, innovation, and inspiration, ER-ROR emerges as an artist charting a path for those who aspire to blend tradition with progress in their creative pursuits.