One notable thing about the Bible, from the Old Testament, is that sins are transferrable. Just as debt is transferrable in an economy. So the Bible establishes a…Sin Economy.

“…in the death of Christ the “guilt” of sin is transferred to Christ from believers.  Though we are all “guilty” as sinners before God; we can rest and trust that Christ took upon himself the guilt of those who trust in him.” – source

In the Old Testament, Abraham is to sacrifice his son Isaac, but then God opens the first Sin Bank, and accepts a goat in his stead. Exodus and Leviticus are practically financial tables listing the sin value of goats, sheep, and pigeons. Then there’s the annual scapegoat, in which the sins of the tribe are transferred to the goat, which God accepts as payment; the goat “redeems” them, or their sins, or something; the goat is an abstract, transferrable currency.

With the advent of goats as redeemable currency, sin/debt is transferrable. The sin economy expands like crazy, as animals redeem human sin debts. You can have way more sin when you don’t have to pay for your own. Sure, there is some cost to keeping/herding goats, but it’s mostly “externalities” – it’s goats and Nature bearing those costs, more than humans. Humans mostly service the institution.

Goats, sheep, and turtledoves are Old testament commodity money, but the New Testament creates fiat currency in Jesus. The Bank of Jesus relies entirely on faith, and the sin economy expands yet again.


Introducing Hundred Dollar Drawings!

Notice: This has been popular! New orders temporarily suspended while I work on backlog. I’ll offer Hundred Dollar Drawings again soon.

example of $100 drawing
Example of a $100 drawing

$100: Tell Nina what to draw* and she’ll draw it. It could be as vague as a word (“quadruped,” “equinox”) or more specific (“a cat driving a car,” “a sun and moon shaking hands”) or even more specific (“a tabby cat driving a convertible sportscar over a cardboard box,” “a sun and moon shaking hands over planet Earth, sky behind them half night and half day”). Nina will email you a photo of the finished drawing, and post it on her blog and social media.

*Specify drawing in Paypal checkout


+ $25: We’ll ship you the original art. Sizes will vary but it will be on 8.5 x 11″ or smaller paper.


+ $100: I will also make a “Making-of” video of the drawing, such as the above.


Example of cleaned-up, reproduction-ready PNG file
Example of cleaned-up, reproduction-ready PNG file

+ $100: Drawing cleaned-up and reproduction-ready for ANY USE YOU WANT!



Q: What if I don’t like my drawing?
A: Too bad, sorry.

Q: Can you submit a sketch and let me comment for revisions?
A: No. If you want revisions, commission another $100 drawing, and a third, fourth, etc. You can get 10 $100 drawings for less than my usual professional rate.

Q: Can I use the drawing as a commercial logo for my business?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I use the drawing for advertising or other commercial purposes?
A: Yes, anything you want.

Q: Isn’t that crazy cheap for commercial art?
A: Yes. But some of these drawings are also non-commercial. It’s all less stress for me, and I don’t care what happens to the image after I draw it. (Actually I do care – the more it’s used, the better.)

Q: What about copyright?
A: Like most of my work this is Free Culture. There’s effectively no copyright to license or buy. You can do whatever you want with the art you commission, but it’s non-exclusive. I will be posting it on my blog and social media.

Q: What if I want exclusive rights?
A: Then you’ll have to pay more than $100 – same as most professional commercial art of this caliber. Shoot me an email to discuss.

Q: What if Nina finds my drawing instructions abhorrent?
A: I will refund your money and not do the drawing. Or I’ll keep the money and willfully misinterpret your request. That might be more interesting.

Q: Can you do a caricature if I send you a photo?
A: Not very well, but I’ll try. I am not a caricaturist so likenesses not guaranteed to be recognizable or remotely able to fulfill hopes and dreams.


More Single Line Art

I am a better line processor than any algorithm we currently have access to. Behold what I turned into a SINGLE LINE by hand:

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!
Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Many people think we’re using Mathematica to do the drawings of our Quilt Money. We’re not! I am drawing all this stuff by hand. Theo uses Mathematica to route my drawings that contain T-intersections, but I’m learning to make my drawings single lines without T-intersections by hand, because they route much better that way. Everything below was drawn by me, by hand:


Only a few bits (the seals and part of the border) need to be routed in Mathematica. Everything else I drew as single paths. Which is quite a brain-hurter, lemme tell ya. Here’s a screen capture of me working on this same project last week:

I could do this much more efficiently now, using what I’ve learned since then. Which is good, because the better I get at this, the more I can help someone else create algorithms to automate this kind of work.

And yes, at some point we hope to offer an affordable $100 Quilt. But first I have to get the design right, and then our potential partner has to be able actually produce it without losing money. We’re working on it.

Our quilted money is one of the few things I don’t share source (in this case, vector) files for, because currency isn’t exactly like other culture, as I explain here.


Money Laundering

Money LaunderingTheo machine-washed and dried our Thousand Dollar Quilt.

As is always the way with money, there was a little less of it than before.

Laundered and unlaundered money
Laundered and unlaundered

The 98-inch-long quilt shrank about 5 inches (approximately 5%). Shown above against our other $1,000 quilt test, pre-laundered, for comparison. Theo prefers the soft crinkly-ness the laundering imparts. I like them either way.


Bargain (Ten Thousand Dollars)

Bargain (Ten Thousand Dollars)  $10,000 quilt

Bargain (Ten Thousand Dollars)
71″ x 31.5″
Cotton fabric, wool batting, polyester thread
Reverse applique and quilting

$10,000 quilt detail 1

“Why are works by Marlene Dumas worth millions and those by the stylistically similar Chuck Connelly worth next to nothing? Because surplus capital in the hands of a small group of moneyed types decrees it so, by fiat. Disparities between surplus capital and “normal” market behavior…create two distinct “markets.” The high-end market just described is the seeking of surplus capital for true value, which lands on a work of art, because that work of art is perceived as unique, often in a highly arbitrary manner that disregards questions of esthetics and connoisseurship. The news is not that a Picasso is worth $100 million, but that $100 million is worth the Picasso!”


After reading this and this, I concluded that high-end art is a form of currency for elites. Art museums and critics encourage us peasants to believe the value in these “priceless art treasures” is based on utility (i.e., the more they cost, the more “genius” they contain). But the value of high end art is due to collectors attaching their surplus capital to it.

$10,000 quilt detail 2

A million-dollar painting has all the utility of a million-dollar bill. Its value is created not by the artist, but by the collector. When a reputable collector puts a million dollars into a painting, another collector may buy it for more than a million dollars. The art market forms its own economy, with its own financial industry:

“During the 1980s, Charles Saatchi started to corner the market by buying up the inventory of one artist, such as Sean Scully, and then dumping the work en masse, presumably for economic gain. Now, collectors such as Daniel Loeb and Aby Rosen also assemble dozens of works by a single artist (Loeb has close to 300 Martin Kippenbergers), but they have so much money that art collecting is a game for them that mimics their larger financial speculations. Using a hedge model, these collectors are able to manipulate the valuations of their holdings based on their internal financial realities, not on any outside demand per se. That is what hedging is.”  ibid.

$10,000 quilt detail 3

(This explains the prominence of collectors at art events. I used to wonder why collectors were such a big deal. Wasn’t Art about the work itself? If anything came second to the work, wouldn’t it be the artist(s)? Why so much attention bestowed upon the collectors? In my naiveté, I thought it was just cynical and desperate ass-licking by arts organizations. Now I realize that collectors are the prime – or only – originators of high-end art value. Anyone can paint, but only a tiny elite can buy a painting for a million dollars.)

$10,000 quilt detail 8

To recap: displaying a million-dollar art work is akin to displaying a million-dollar bill, but with a certain cachet (“disavowal” was Pierre Bourdieu’s term) that is part of its price. But there are no million-dollar bills. That’s one of the reasons collectors need million-dollar paintings. When you own as much wealth as a small nation you can commission your own currency. Or better yet, pick and choose your currency from an enormous market of would-be currency designers. (The 1970’s board game “Masterpiece” hints at this; “value” cards are randomly paired with painting cards, an amusing sendup of the Fine Art World that was utterly lost on me as a child, although I did enjoy looking at the pictures.)

$10,000 quilt detail 4

I wanted to make a quilt that looked like a million-dollar bill. Unfortunately the highest denomination bill I could find online at high resolution was $10,000. That’s painfully low, because

“increments of $100,000 are to today’s contemporary art market what $10,000 was in the 1980s and $1,000 was in the ‘60s.” ibid.

But that’s what I had to work with. In fact the $10,000 bill isn’t in circulation today. But it does look like “money” (unlike the $100,000 Gold Certificate) so in that way it fits the bill, so to speak.

$10,000 quilt detail 5

Ironically (for ironic juxtaposition!) quilts are among among the most under-valued art forms. They also require more skill and time than almost any other art-making technique I’ve tried. The selling price of quilts seldom covers the costs of materials; quilters often prefer to give their quilts away. An “expensive” quilt usually costs more than the value of materials, but less than minimum wage for labor. I recently met a master quilter whose beautiful wall quilt, which took months of expert work and won many awards, was professionally appraised at $3,500. This is considered very high; had it not been widely displayed and won many awards, it would be “worth” far less. Betty Busby is an art quilter I admire whose works have broken through the “high” end of quilt prices into the “bargain-basement low” end of art prices.

$10,000 quilt detail 6

Is it because quilts have so much utility (“use-value”) that they can’t get traction as high art? Is it because quilting is historically “women’s work”? Is it because quilting is often kitschy, popular in the middle-class Midwest that many aspiring art-worlders move to New York to get away from? Is quilting too white? (The now-famous Gee’s Bend quilters would be an exception to prove this rule.) Is it because many quilters are insane about copyright, going out of their way to restrict knowledge of their work?

Who knows. Meanwhile, here is a Ten Thousand Dollar quilt.

$10,000 quilt Nina Paley signature tag

P.S. This sucker was a ton of work. The Muse made me do it. A master quilter I ain’t. Quilt appraisers would scoff because I don’t properly tie off and hide my threads, and because there are some puckers and pleats in the quilting. But if I billed the hours I put into this as an animator, I would invoice more than $10,000.

P.P.S. Bargain (Ten Thousand Dollars) will be on display at my upcoming Art Quilt Show at Sleepy Creek Vineyards.