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Monday, November 24, 2008


The South African Bank Note Society’s annual bank note design competition expands.

The South African Bank Note Society’s annual bank note design competition has caused the graphic design industry to sit up straight and pay attention.

This innovative and challenging futuristic bank note design competition plays an important role in the development and advancement of the graphic design talent in South Africa. The competition gives design students from the Western Cape, Gauteng, North West and now also KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, the opportunity to market themselves by displaying their concepts for the bank note designs to the specialised adjudicators, the media and the public in general.

The 20th anniversary of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) in 2010 is the inspiration for the South African Bank Note Society’s 2008 bank note design competition. It is the sixth consecutive year that the competition is running.

Graphic design students from the above mentioned provinces attended a three-hour orientation session in their respective regions. Here they were informed about the process of bank note development, printing techniques and inks used, as well as design themes. An extensive tour of the South African bank note history detailing themes and progressive improvements in security features over time was discussed, as well as a review of world notes illustrating the different observable security features that are currently utilised.

An overview of the Rand Monetary Agreement, the Tripartite Area and the Common Monetary Area (linked currency of the Rand, Maloti, Emalangeni and the Namibian Dollar) was presented and an interesting study of the bank notes of Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland formed part of the session. Examples of released notes from Southern African states, that had to be withdrawn due to cultural errors in the design, highlighted to the students that their research has to be thorough and precise. An in-depth analysis of the graphic design of the “big five” and the recent security upgrade and constitutionality of the newly released notes was another point of discussion.

Amongst other challenges in the brief, students will be expected to design a CMA Commemorative 20 denomination bank note, a modelled CMA commemorative 10 denomination coin, together with descriptions and the elucidation of security. Students will be required to create a unique new name for this hypothetical commemorative common currency for the four CMA countries.

The competition is held in high esteem, not only by the local Graphic Design Industry but also the International Council of Graphic Design Association (Icograda), and in particular the local South African Graphic Design Council (THINK). The project is not just a matter of design, but directly involves a client and is therefore a real life test of the students’ creative abilities before entering the real world. It is a holistic exercise that involves a lot of intensive research before the design work can actually start.

Jacques Lange, president of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) had the following to say about the competition: “The Bank Note Design Competition is one of the most comprehensive tests of a designer’s skills as it requires the students to engage with socio, economic and anthropological research; conceptual research; narrative management; typography, pattern design; illustration; complex composition and integration of security features among others”.

Dr Heinz Wirz, president of the S.A Bank Note Society, put together the comprehensive brief for the students. He believes the competition gives students the opportunity to market themselves and their talents as graphic design artists, which is important as South Africa has some outstanding talent in this regard. “We are proactive in sourcing the talent for design right here in South Africa,” he explains. “The bank note design competition is expanding. Compared to last year’s 80 participants, over 300 design students from various colleges were briefed this year and that is exciting.”

The colleagues taking part in this year’s competition are: Gauteng / North West: Midrand Graduate Institute, University of North West, University of Pretoria, Vaal University of Technology. Western Cape: Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Free State: Central University of Technology, Damelin, Goldfields, F.E.T College.

The South African Bank Note Society wishes to acknowledge the South African Reserve Bank and Adobe for their sponsorships in support of the competition.

For more information on the SA Bank Note Society or the bank note design competition, phone Dr Heinz Wirz on tel/fax 011 792 8464 or 082 779 7449