A local artist who rose to prominence after turning the Queen into the Joker on a Jersey pound note is hoping to cash in on his recent success after being featured in a book alongside Banksy.
To some, his creations might make little cents, but Jersey resident Oliver Killip’s graffitied banknotes are going from strength to strength.
The activity is technically illegal, but the artist hasn’t run into any trouble so far. In fact, quite to the contrary: he recently had one of his creations appear in Bob Osborne’s book ‘Cash is King – The Art of Defaced Banknotes’ alongside famous artists such as Banksy, and now he’s celebrating being featured in an exhibition at the renowned Saatchi Gallery.
A Senior Trust Officer at Moore Stephens, Oliver started drawing by chance just over two years ago. When he first picked up a pencil to kill boredom, he had never received any training. Since then, he has tried out various techniques and taught himself how to draw with pencils, ink, paint and more recently spray paint.
Pictured: Oliver with his banknote at Saatchi Gallery.
Nine months ago, he moved from a full-time to part-time contract to spend more time on his art. He says the success he is now enjoying wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for this flexibility. “It has been fundamental to my self-development as an artist," Oliver says. "By having the support of regular employment, coupled with the time to explore different styles has resulted in this great opportunity. My colleagues have also been really supportive – even giving me their leftover holiday currency!”
After drawing a portrait of Heath Ledger as the Joker, which is currently at Studio Eighteen, Oliver decided to draw another one that he could keep and the idea came to do it on a Jersey pound note. "I knew I was never going to sell that," he explains.
But what Oliver describes as a "quick little Joker sketch" turned into something bigger. Bob Osborne, a Mixed Media Artist known for his 'Rebel Not Taken' leitmotif, spotted the note and contacted Oliver to ask him for more. At the time, Bob was scouting for money artists and Oliver's creation caught his eye. He was given two weeks to complete more work.
"I didn't sleep for two weeks,” Ollie recalled. “Bob said I took the baton and just ran! I try to use the banknote as much as possible and make it look as a proper banknote. It's just about having fun. It's taking the mickey out of society and the establishment. I mean today's leaders just give it to you on a plate, don't they?"
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Oliver drew "irreverent" designs on Jersey and Guernsey notes, as well as more exotic ones his friends gave him. This included an old Chinese bank note featuring Mao Zedong, which Oliver admits he didn't know about. He decided to give it the 'Trump touch' and drew the face of the American president over Mao's, titling it 'Make China Great Again.'
Bob Osborne liked it the banknote so much he featured it in his book 'Cash is King’. Three other banknotes "defaced" by Oliver also feature in the book along with an annotation noting that Oliver's "stencil, cutting and drawing skills are put to good use in the defacement of money which is given a playful twist by a surreal sense of humour."
Oliver's Chinese banknote was also picked among the 300 other designs published in the book to feature at an exhibition at Saatchi Gallery. It became so popular that it was the first design to sell at the private exhibition.
Oliver’s boss, Moore Stephens Managing Director Angus Taylor said the firm were delighted to learn of his success. “We’re proud of Olly’s huge achievement in featuring in this new book and exhibition and look forward to seeing what he creates in the future.”
Pictured: Oliver's bank notes in the book 'Cash is King.'
Explaining his style, Oliver said: “I’m subversive and slightly cynical in nature which is often expressed in my art where I try to cross popular culture with my irreverent sense of humour and surrealism in a variety of styles. I particularly enjoy working with banknotes which lend well to expressing this form of humour.”
And he has no intention of stopping, fully intending on continuing to spend time on adding his twist to spending money.
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