Gallery: Scott Campbell Carves Skull Out Of $11,000 of US Currency


Albeit amazing to look at, Scott Campbell‘s series of skulls carved from stacks of one dollar bills are not the greenest artworks we’ve covered. Using lasers, the artist carves into real, uncut United States minted dollars to create tattoo art’s most ubiquitous image – the skull. Spotted over at Notcot, these delicate three-dimensional pieces subvert popular notions of nobility with tattoo parlor designs that use copper, real currency, graphite, ink and neon.

A former tattoo artist, Scott opened his Noblesse Oblige exhibit this past weekend at the Oh Wow art gallery in Los Angeles. Carving into books is sacrilegious enough — although Brian Dettmer at least gives an old relic new life. But this greenback skull burns through unused money to create art with a hefty price tag.

Poking good fun at the rich, the New York-based artist uses sheets of American money worth $11,000 to create a two foot cube, out of which the three-dimensional skull is carved. Brilliant and bold, the skull does raise issues of how arbitrary money can seem. However, call us old-fashioned, but burning through dough also seems like a careless waste.

+ Scott Campbell

Via Notcot

Photos by Notcot


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  1. lazyreader May 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    @ XenoSilvano “Holding the human race back”? It’s capitalism that’s lifted us out of the misery and continues to do so. Many people in the third world would disagree with your remark.

  2. XenoSilvano May 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

    eh, I don’t think that’s legal.

    but nice touch though, crafting a dead man’s chest out of real currency–every symbolic.

    The monetary system is a very intransigently fowled system which is in actuality holding the human race back.

  3. Ms Charlie May 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I like this is very different and looks awesome! I’ve seen his tattoos and he’s pretty talented. I also was wondering about the legality of damaging money?

  4. Kino March 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Folks, may I direct your attention to one of the most over-hyped artworks of the last decade: Damian Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’ – the skull encrusted with 8,500+ diamonds worth USD 100m (which, in Warhol fashion, was an idea ‘borrowed’ without royalties from John LeKay’s crystal skull, which, in return was borrowed from the famously fake ‘pre-Columbian’ crystal skulls). Making art to make comments on the value of the art is now officially a cliche, albeit an expensive one.

  5. nitalynn March 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I am neither supporting or rejecting what he did but isn’t there some sort of law making it illegal to damage money, at least in the U.S.? I remember when I was a kid (a loooooong time ago) one teacher got on to a bunch of my classmates about putting coins on the railroad tracks and letting the train flatten them. Anyway she said it was illegal.

  6. Tao March 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    The only things certain in life…

  7. lazyreader March 22, 2011 at 8:11 am

    If this is some sort of anti-capitalist statement, Scott’s a damn hypocrite. That’s okay we know tattoos are a waste of money.

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