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Utah County artist uses money to make unique portraits

SPANISH FORK — Sean Diediker uses money to make money.

Instead of using paints or chalk, the Spanish Fork artist uses paper money to make his portraits. His unique approach is already gaining national attention and the interest of some clients willing to pay big bucks to bring home his money art.

"You don't even see the image until toward the end," Diediker explained. "You work for a few months with the hope that it will be recognizable."

Using nothing but dollar bills, he strategically folds and positions the bills to create amazing portraits.

His money art includes portraits of several presidents shown on U.S. currency. His works include a portrait of George Washington made from $1 bills. For Abraham Lincoln, he used $5 bills.

His most expensive work to date is a portrait of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, using more than $30,000 in $20 bills.

His money art also includes President Barack Obama, and most recently Donald Trump. It took roughly $1,400 in $1 bills to create the likeness of the mega-mogul.

Diediker is an oil painter by trade, but says he decided to start using money for the novelty of it.

"You're here now because of it," he said. "This is the only artwork that appreciates and depreciates in value at the same time. Hopefully over time my name will be worth more, but the dollar value goes down over time."

In just over a week, Diediker's portraits have garnered national interest — even getting featured on national television. He says his use of money as a creative medium gets people to pay attention in a way that paint never could.

"For some reason with fine art and paintings, it doesn't seem to generate the same interest as something like this," he said, "where a 5-year-old kid, he knows what a dollar is."

All of his presidential portraits have sold, though he won't say for how much. He plans to put his focus back on oil paintings for now. Still, he said he has a few good ideas for his "money art," if the right client comes along.

"I'd love to do something like the Monopoly figure guy in the lobby of a big financial institution or a hotel," he said. "I think that would be a very interesting project."