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In an ever-interconnected world, art and daily life blend, pushing the boundaries of expression. Money art has risen to prominence as a medium for artists to challenge long-held beliefs about currency and investigate the intricate ties between art and society. Argentine money artist Martín Segobia, a pioneer in his field, uses banknotes and coins to create his unique, inclusive, and diverse vision. Join us as we delve into Segobia’s artistic journey, exploring his motivations, challenges, and exceptional contributions to the world of money art.

A passion born from youthful curiosity

Segobia’s fascination with art began in Argentina during his childhood, but it wasn’t until he moved to the United States and attended college that he pursued it as a career. Influenced by renowned artists like Chuck Close and Vik Muniz, Segobia’s work often carried a political, anti-war message laced with sarcasm and pop culture iconography: “My work was always political, mostly anti-war with a sarcastic tone, often using pop culture iconography.”

“American Nurse” | © Martin Segobia

A trailblazing style and technique

Segobia’s groundbreaking approach involves drawing portraits on dollar bills using a blend of acrylic paint and ink. Over time, he has experimented with various techniques and tools. His goal is to create drawings that seamlessly integrate with the bill’s format, rather than simply blending in: “These days, I don’t necessarily try to make the drawing blend into the bill, but I want it to look like it belongs within the format of the bill.”

Currency’s familiarity and the glaring lack of diversity on most banknotes, particularly US ones, have drawn Segobia to this medium. He aims to depict a broader representation on our money, featuring icons like Serena Williams, Bruce Lee, and even pandas. Segobia passionately expresses his thoughts on the matter: “The fact that the most printed artwork in the history of humankind only has the same seven white men is ludicrous.” With this sentiment driving his art, he is determined to make a change: “I am interested in portraying a wider representation on our currency.”

“American Eagle” | © Martin Segobia

Unmasking the propaganda: The hidden message of Money Art

Segobia views money art as propaganda—a reminder of the entity in control: “I think Money Art is propaganda. Anywhere you go in the world, when you see local money; you are being presented with what the local government wants you to see.” He acknowledges some exceptions, such as Carlos Almenar’s stunning banknotes that showcase not only people but also animals.
Despite challenges like the limited space on currency and the misconception that it’s illegal, Segobia sees these hurdles as opportunities for artistic storytelling. He enjoys the practicality of working with currency, needing only a small space to craft his “masterpieces”: “A lot of people tell me that it is illegal to draw on money and that I could go to jail. I’m pretty sure that is not the case, but if it was, I think that would make for a great artistic story anyway.”

“Panda Love Story” | © Martin Segobia

Segobia’s work has been showcased in galleries, art fairs, and exhibitions. As a member of the National Association of Fine Art Dealers, he remains dedicated to his craft, pushing the boundaries of traditional currency views. Segobia is clear about his message of hope for diversity: “When you grow up not seeing people that look like you in positions of power, or any kind of success, it’s harder. Hopefully, when people see someone other than Washington or Jackson on dollar bills, they will question ‘Why DO we only have white old men on money?’ and ‘What other mediums are lacking diversity?’ Who knows? Maybe in the near future, this won’t be an issue anymore, but for now, I’ll keep doodling on dollar bills.”
With a strong message and a unique approach to art, Martín Segobia continues to challenge the status quo, advocating for increased diversity and representation in the world of currency. As his work gains more attention and sparks conversation, we can hope that change is on the horizon, and that the world of money art will be transformed into a more inclusive and diverse space.

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