Anybody Got a Ten-Spot?
THE U.S. TREASURY RECENTLY UNVEILED A NEW TEN-DOLLAR BILL. It's pretty nice, but we asked some of the world's most creative people if they could do better. They could.
By Stephen Powers a.k.a ESPO

(MONEY Magazine) – Money--actual dollar bills--doesn't get much attention these days. Your paycheck magically appears in your account. You swipe your debit card, transferring unseen dollars. So when the Treasury unveiled a new $10 bill this fall, the focus on currency as art was refreshing. We seized the moment by asking some of the world's foremost creative minds to show us how they would design a better bill and to explain why they'd do it differently. As we recently changed the way MONEY looks with a redesign of our own (printed on paper, of course, not 75% cotton and 25% linen, like money), the timing seemed perfect.

Some replaced Alexander Hamilton with another historical figure (like Martin Luther King Jr., or Mariah Carey). Others altered the construction of the bill itself, using silk (for easy dry-cleaning) or metal. All of them expanded the possibilities for what paper money can be, and the gallery on the next few pages is indeed eye-opening. (The designs will be auctioned off for charity.)

So the next time you pay for something with a ten-spot, remember these works of art and think about what might have been.

Stephen Powers a.k.a. ESPO world-renowned graffiti artist

Why did I put George Washington carver on my $10 bill? He was a botanist who found over 300 uses for the peanut. He also discovered that soybeans were rich in protein and could be used in more ways than just as a forage crop to feed livestock. He introduced crop rotation to the South and ensured the viability of America's farmlands to this day. Carver's work continues to be innovated upon: In 1999 a French scientist invented Plumpy'nut, a peanut-based paste that's being used to feed starving kids and save lives all over the world. A one-week supply to feed a child costs $10. Now what did Hamilton do again? --ESPO

Alex Bogusky creative director, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the advertising firm behind campaigns for Mini, Burger King, Virgin Atlantic and others

My goal was to make the 10 function better. On a recent flight, copywriter Evan Fry and I decided that the biggest problem for us was keeping our money organized. The fact that bills can be upside down and backwards wastes time. If each of us spends just 20 seconds a week getting our money in order, that adds up to 190 collective years of the nation's time per week. So I used a playing-card design, with no top or bottom or front or back--you can't stack it wrong. This allowed me to put more than one person on the bill. I chose Martha Washington because she was the first woman to appear on a U.S. stamp; I liked the precedent. And I chose Frederick Douglass for his obvious role as an abolitionist. Other changes include large numbers for an aging population and the removal of "In God We Trust," which seems to go against the separation of church and state. --ALEX BOGUSKY

Ralph Gilles car wizard, designer (with Mark Allen) of the Chrysler 300 sedan

Good design transcends all industries. Whether one designs cars, boats, homes or iPods, the bottom line is getting people to feel, "Wow, that's cool. I love and gotta have that. It's perfect for me!" That kind of passion is what inspired us to take great automotive design and place it on the $10 bill. --RALPH GILLES

Diane von Furstenberg fashion designer, one-time Warhol model, creator of the wrap dress

What's money without love? --DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

Michael Graves architect and product-design icon, mastermind of Target product line

When money asked me to reinvent the $10 bill, the cost of gasoline was climbing precipitously. It appeared that it wouldn't be long before a gallon of gas was worth its weight in gold. I visualized what it would mean to pay $10 a gallon for gas and came up with the idea that before long, we might be able to trade a gallon of gas worth $10 for just about anything--including food and shelter. Thus the idea of the $10 gas can was born. --MICHAEL GRAVES

André Leon Talley Vogue editor-at-large, international ambassador of style

My inspiration was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who showed that through love and money, one can make a difference in every life--of a child, of an adult, of a family, and especially those who are victims of the floods or of the Iraq war and all other wars. In the fragility of the world order today, Dr. King's lessons still demonstrate what the strength of love, combined with money, can do. --ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY

Mario Buatta interior designer to the stars (including Mariah Carey)

Who is the "10" of today? Mariah Carey! Her voice, her talent, her beauty...WOWEEE! Theory: I've always thought money should be launderable (not "laundered"). I can still hear my mother saying, "Wash your hands after you touch money." I put my allowance in the washing machine, and lo and behold it was gone down the drain. So: SAVE THE TREES and print it on cotton or silk that can be dry-cleaned--longer-lasting (not in my pocket!) and free from germs. --MARIO BUATTA