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Technology Meets Artistry | Designing a Coin
Tony Bianco, the artist who designed the reverse side of the Fine Silver Kilo Coin - 125th Anniversary of Banff National Park (2010), has been expressing himself as a full time artist since the age of twenty. His work displays a love for life, nature, and communicating emotion visually. "I feel quite privileged to see my creative vision executed in a full kilogram of fine silver or gold. Such a prestigious coin is a fitting tribute to one of Canada's greatest natural treasures—one that is cherished by people around the world."
The very first coin Tony ever designed for the Mint was the $2 Millenium Polar Bear Coin - 2000. Tony enjoys the very different and interesting subjects he's exposed to from the Mint noting some of his favourites as the Olympic $25 Silver Hologram Coin – Skeleton (2009), the $4 Fine Silver Coin - Hanging the Stockings (2009) and the 2006 $20 Silver Proof Collector Coin featuring Georgian Bay Islands National Park.
When asked about the design process he uses to capture the various sentiments of coins, he explained how Nat King Cole's music and modern technology have both fit into his three-part process...
Part 1 – After reviewing a coin's initial concept – which is always provided by the Royal Canadian Mint – Tony starts his research. Research typically involves taking photographs, doing sketches, talking to experts in various fields etc. Since August was a difficult time to get in the festive mood and design the Hanging the Stockings Coin, Tony got creative by playing some Nat King Cole music!
Part 2 – Once the research is completed, Tony then moves on to create a series of 3-6 concept "roughs". These roughs are then shared with the project's product manager for their input. Thanks photo-editing, Tony is able to create his roughs using various pieces and parts of content. Since the design is malleable, it's much easier to make changes related to the placement or size of each various piece.
Part 3 – Once the vision is finessed, Tony is able to create the final design. To help generate engraver-friendly finals, technology also makes it possible for Tony to render the final design in 3D format. For the subtle nuances, Tony also likes to speak to the engravers over the phone and sometimes in person.
"Great ideas come from the minds of many people. It's not just my design... I'm part of a bigger process."
"My process and use of technology has grown along with the Mint. In 2000 I did all the designs by hand in graphite. Now I still do every element by hand, but I scan them in and move them around until the final design is born."
"I complete the final design completely by hand. I think of making a 3D sculpture … you know so, the engraver can envision high relief here or a shiny or frosted area there."
Tony enjoys all aspects of his life as an artist. Since much of his art is self-directed, he loves being tasked with specific design parameters and limitations. Considering much of his artwork occupies a 5' X 7' canvas, designing artwork to fit the ratio of a coin is a refreshing challenge.