Euro Banknotes as Expressions of Greek Social Protest

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The residents of many countries in the European Union have, in recent years, seen the quality of their daily lives diminished, thanks to the policies of financial austerity forced upon them by Brussels. 

But there has perhaps been no country that has suffered more than Greece. The country is burdened with misguided austerity policies, apparently resulting in a 25% unemployment rate (almost 50% among young people). The wages have fallen by 35%, while thousands are left without electricity or heat. Unfortunately, this economic decline is urging a growing spike in the country’s rising suicide rate. 

The newly-elected SYRIZA party is currently engaged in negotiations with Brussels to find a way out of this impasse, but there’s no assurance those will end well.

So it’s no surprise that the dark mood this condition creates has manifested itself in many ways, notably through a vibrant graffiti and street art scene, and on a much smaller scale… on banknotes. 

That’s the medium Greek artist Stefanos began using a year ago. Stefanos creates vignettes on euro bills of tiny figures engaged in acts of quiet desperation, violence, hope, and even love. It looks reminiscent of the etchings of the great artist Piranesi himself.

Some artists express themselves on canvases, street walls, and sketchbooks, but the artists chose a medium that is accessible to the greater public. His statement represents the economic uncertainty of living in a debt-stricken country. 

After drawing on the bills with his fountain pen, Stefanos places them back in circulation where it is free to pass from hand to hand through the countries in the 19 eurozone countries. 

Take a look at some of the most telling, haunting, and expressive pieces that the artist has created: 


In an interview with Designboom, the artist shared, “Through hacking the banknotes I’m using a European document, that is in cross-border circulation, including Greece – thus, the medium allows me to ‘bomb’ public property from the comfort of my home.”

Simple gestures like sketching on paper bills can serve as a powerful way for you to express meaningful ideologies. For Stefano, spending a year on this project was a way for him to give awareness to the nation’s situation.

Art is a form of protest. You can use it to express yourself too. Browse through these revolution, rights, and patriot logos for inspiration. 

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