Credit Card Art: It Pays To Paint Discover
By Steven Goss

It's hard to define the boundary between money and art. Similar to the careers of Johns and Rauschenberg, the relationship is almost interchangeable. The only thing keeping money and art separate is our use of it. If you have money, you can go to the store and buy some milk. Nobody will question you. Try doing the same with a Van Gogh and see where you get. I'm not saying Starry Night couldn't get you some milk. I'm assuming it could get you a whole truckload of milk, but that would make this discussion less clear. Although, it may suggest that art could be turned into an acceptable substitute for money or at least an abstract concept of it. Just think if money and art joined forces. Starving artists would be happy. And, I bet it wouldn't take much cajoling to get them to design currency or credit cards. Sort of like in 1995 when Discover used celebrity art to decorate their Private Issue line. These credit cards were an instant hit because the card's design featured art made by people such as Ringo Starr and Patrick Ewing. And why shouldn't it have been a huge success? Wouldn't spending money be more enjoyable if Tina Turner made it? The same goes for Randy Travis. It was a glorious moment. Art and money crossed the line and a painting could finally get you that CD of power rock ballads you saw on TV. The campaign has since ended. Phil Collins closed the series out in 1999. It makes you wonder what kind of art skills Phil has. Not many, I guess. But, as the following examples demonstrate, they could have come up with worse.

Detail of Anthony Quinn Card Art
(inset, top to bottom) Ringo Starr, Tina Turner and Jane Seymour Cards
The Ruby Card
CELEB STAT: Painting elephant at Phoenix Zoo; Deceased
  The Margaret Keane Card
CELEB STAT: Creator of "Big Eye" style painting
The Jorge Terrones "Jesse Ventura" Card
CELEB STAT: Black velvet pop artist
  The John Wayne Gacy Card
CELEB STAT: Mass murderer; Deceased


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