Moneygami Turns Money to Art

Origami (ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper”; kami changes to gami due to rendaku) is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD at the latest and was popularized outside Japan in the mid-1900s.

Moneygami is origami made from banknote; the subtle genius lies in the way the artist incorporates the prints on the money bills into the facial characteristics of the finished figures.

Japanese artist Hasegawa Yosuka may be best known for his 3-D animation, but his origami is what has been getting him noticed lately. Nicknamed “moneygami,” the art takes upcycled bank notes from around the world, and folds them into incredible portraits of our historical leaders. Ranging from fitting to funny, Yosuka’s mini portraits show us our currency in a new light- and give us something to do with our bills if everything goes plastic one day!

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Our relationship with money changes from day to day. One day we love it, the next we hate it – but do we ever really pay attention to it? When was the last time you inspected the detailed art work on the money that we begrudgingly hand over to a shop for a pair of hot shoes? Keeping these questions in mind, Yosuka’s moneygami forces us to take note of our bank notes.

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Each piece of currency itself is a work of art, a tributary portrait of a great – or not so great – leader. Yosuka creates a sense of equality amongst all of the famous igures, by folding a sense of humor into money. With a flick of a crisp edge, Che Guevara is turned into a cowboy. Saddam Hussein sports a soda jerk style hat, and Chairman Mao is given a Navy cap. Abraham Lincoln seems to be a favorite, appearing in sideways ball caps, du rags, turbans, sombreros and even as a ninja.

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In these economically stressful times, Yosuka’s moneygami puts a smile on our faces again when dealing with money. And hey, we can always unfold one of his portraits should we need that extra cash for subway fare!

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