Enigmatic Florida artist Mister E certainly lives up to his name. Born in the late eighties, his real name has never been revealed, and he rarely talks to the press. However, his profile has seen his work gain serious interest from celebrity collectors, thanks to his iconic designs based on US currency, which are never anything less than vibrantly colorful and thought-provoking.
By focusing his work around money, Mister E’s art offers a striking representation of the positive aspects of life in a capitalist society, reminding the viewer that money can be a force for good. Discover more about the artist’s life and work below, and explore ArtLife’s collection of Mister E art for sale here.
Mister E was born in 1987 in the United States. Little is known about both his upbringing or early years. Before dedicating his life to working in art, Mister E went to college to study real estate and construction design, and after graduating, worked as a contractor during the late 2000s. His decision to enter this line of work, unfortunately, coincided with the worst of the housing crisis and the global financial crash, something which would inspire his work for years to come.
His first work after becoming an artist full-time was based around acrylic portraits of celebrities, based on photographs, and the first celebrity to own his work was boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the subject of the painting in question. However, his time in construction — and the timing of his period in that industry — gave him a radical new perspective on how society is completely dictated by the economy. Consequently, he chose to design his own currency, often using $100 bills with serial numbers from 2009, the height of the crash, as his starting point.
The Benny Jr. series, as he entitled these ongoing works, has since become his calling card. Paintings in the series have been bought by celebrity collectors as diverse as Miley Cyrus, Lionel Richie and Chief Justice Of The Supreme Court John Roberts, and his work is also on display in the New York Stock Exchange.
“Most people look at money the wrong way, like ‘Money’s the root of all evil.’” he once explained of his themes in an interview. “My whole thing is, money is whatever you want to make it. You can do a lot of good with money, too. Money is power, and that doesn’t have to be seen as a negative thing.”
Mister E’s Benny Jr. bills have also made appearances in music videos for the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne. However, he also uses much of his work to promote charitable causes, auctioning off bills for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and creating a bespoke, pink $100 bill for a breast cancer charity.
When it comes to a goal for his art, Mister E has stated that he simply wishes to encourage people to see the hundred dollar bill as an inspiring and motivating symbol of hope. He also sees his work as a means to an end, rather than a deeper expression of his innermost thoughts and feelings. “Art’s for the money,” he once told the press. “Art is money. Money is art. It’s the same thing.”
A modern-minded painter to the end, he went on to say that these days, “Artists have to be more than artists. You have to be your own marketing company and brand.” Mister E’s artwork is instantly recognizable, and couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else’s, and he takes great pride in the attention to detail he puts into every bill he designs.
He now works out of a 10,000 square-foot studio-cum-gallery space in Miami, Florida, Mister E is still making money from making money. From custom $10,000 bills for Supreme Court Justices, platinum-resin hundreds as part of the ongoing Benny Jr. series, or 100,000 customized Benjamins to be shot out of a cannon at a music festival, each individual piece of Mister E artwork continues to make some of the biggest statements in the art world.