Penny for your thoughts – man brings joy to social media through painted coins

A man has taken the phrase “penny for your thoughts” literally by creating hundreds of paintings on coins and bringing joy to social media users in the process.

Cody TheCreative, who is based in Los Angeles, started a project called Penny Pop Art in 2016, which sees him paint anything from TV show characters to musicians and artists on one cent coins, which are commonly referred to as pennies in the States.

Brown pennies with paintings on them
Cody TheCreative’s painting of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon on pennies (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

He told the PA news agency that a flight to Texas to meet a friend led to the project taking shape.

“I was going to Austin to visit friends and on the plane journey there, there was a new steward,” the 33-year-old old creative entrepreneur said.

“One of the stewardesses said that a tradition they have when someone is new is to collect a penny from everyone on the plane, so that by the end of the day travelling back and forth on all their flight they will have roughly a lucky penny for every of day of his first year at his new job.”

As he did not have a penny at the time, the 33-year-old said he painted a penny on a business card he had and gave it to the steward instead.

This event as well as discovering microscopic art through Instagram led to the artist embarking on penny painting.

Hundreds of coins have been spruced up using paint, with many drawing inspiration from TheCreative’s childhood influences, which include pop culture and 90s nostalgia.

Elvis painted on a penny
Cody TheCreative’s painting of Elvis on a penny (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

“Elvis was my favourite singer when I was growing up. I was obsessed. I had an Elvis clock, an Elvis phone, even a custom-made Elvis costume for Halloween,” he said.

“I love Van Gogh so that one is special to me and I relate to Warhol in some ways as well, which is why I called the project Penny Pop Art and that’s actually the only one I have framed in my room.”

Woman with a blue jumper painted on a penny
Cody TheCreative’s painting of Mrs Doubtfire (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

He said that the more simpler paintings could take 15 minutes, while detailed ones could take hours.

He added that he was particularly impressed with his rendition of Picasso’s Girl Before A Mirror, as it was the first famous artwork he ever painted “in full, on a penny”.

Painting on a penny
Cody TheCreative’s version of Picasso’s Girl Before A Mirror (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

Some of his art has even reached celebrities and garnered reactions from popular TV networks.

“I think the biggest person I got it through to was Lil Wayne’s people – that blew my mind a little bit,” he said.

“On social media, Cartoon Network and even the Scooby Doo account reacted.”

Man with a blade as a hand on a penny
Cody TheCreative’s painting of Freddy Krueger (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

TheCreative said that he went into the project without any real expectations in mind.

“And then when I posted, people really responded, which was really encouraging and validating”, he said.

“The one thing you really want when you put your art out into the world is support.”

Gold coin with Marilyn Monroe painted on it
Cody TheCreative’s Gold Marilyn, which was inspired by Warhol’s distinct style and painting of her (Cody TheCreative/Penny Pop Art)

Some of the painted pennies have a touching story connected to them.

“I made a necklace for a woman whose dad loved pennies and passed away and it was beautiful to see my work be representational of someone who is not even here anymore”, he said.

“There was a woman whose son had cancer and I painted a cancer ribbon on a penny in the colour of the type of cancer to provide him with some hope.

“My artist statement around this project was to put the most valued individuals on the least valued currency, and give new life to this familiar, yet nearly obsolete, everyday object.

“Pennies have so many connotations – a penny for your thoughts, a lucky penny – and I wanted to add to that and bring people joy.”

More information about the project can be found here: