Spicing Up Your Legal Tender


Brazilian artist and designer, Andre Levy, will change the way you look at coins. His creative interventions in Tales You Lose, involve embellishing and transforming heads of state into popular characters and people, leaving you wondering why you never thought of doing that yourself! It may also leave you curious about who is chosen to be on a coin, and about the legalities of altering money, even for non-fraudulent purposes like art. In this case, the acrylic paint you’ll be using can easily be scraped away, allowing you to continue using your coins as legitimate currency. But if you prefer to save the Queen of England sporting a new, hot pink coiffe, you can do that too.


  • coins with faces/heads
  • fine paint brushes
  • acrylic paints



1. This is a great opportunity to explore different currencies, and see what or who ends up being chosen to grace the face of a coin. Mints, the facilities where coins are manufactured, can be visited throughout the world. Here are just a few:

The Royal Canadian Mint

United States Mint

European Union Mints

The Royal Mint UK

Japanese Mint

Royal Australian Mint

If you’re curious about the legalities of altering coins, here’s some information about US laws.


2. Gather a few coins with faces/heads on them. Apply acrylic paint to help them get rid of their oh so serious expressions. You can give them funny hair, hats, colour their faces, make them look like one of your favourite cartoon characters, etc.


Allow to dry. Acrylic paint will not be permanent and can easily be scraped off, so you can easily try a different look, or just go back to using your plain old money. If you’re looking for more permanent results, enamel paint would be the way to go.


Finally, the Royal Canadian Mint has come out with some colourful designs of their own, over the years. Here are just a few I managed to track down:



Filed under Andre Levy, coins, painting

10 responses to “Spicing Up Your Legal Tender

  1. This is always the place to come for really cool “outside-the-box” ideas! I think teenage kids would enjoy this project because of its “daring” appeal. I’d just pass the coins on at the store and speculate about the reaction they’d get down the line!
    I was also reminded about the first time a Canadian coin came into my possession. I must have been about 8 years old. I stared at it as if it had dropped from space. Then I kept it safely in my jewelry box for years, until someone told me there was really nothing exotic about a quarter filtering down from our friendly neighbor to the north!

    • Love your story about the Canadian coin! It’s funny how special something can become when it’s from somewhere else. We’re just programmed to look at it differently. I would love to see some homemade painted coins in circulation. Like you said, it would be fun to see people’s reactions.

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