David Knapton studied Graphic Design and has been working on creative projects for campaigns, products and coin designs at The Royal Mint for eight years. We caught up with him to find out what inspired his design for this year’s official Team GB coin.
What other coins have you designed?
I have previously worked on four Paddington™ 50p coins and the Rosalind Franklin DNA coin in 2020.
How did the opportunity to design this coin come about?
This is the second time I have submitted a coin design for Team GB. Previously I submitted a design for the year of the Commonwealth Games, but it was unsuccessful. Naturally I was disappointed, so it was nice to get a second chance to represent them. This time around the style of my design felt more in tune with the feel of this particular sporting occasion.
What was your inspiration for this coin?
I went to the same school as Gareth Bale, Sam Warburton and Geraint Thomas. I’m not very sporty myself, but I’ve always admired the drive and passion of elite athletes. Like most of us, I’m never going to find myself on an Olympic medal podium, but I’m really proud to have designed something that represents what hundreds of athletes and sportspeople have dedicated their lives to. I hope in some small way it inspires Team GB Olympians as they fulfil their dream of competing on the biggest stage of all.
What did you do to research?
At the beginning of 2019, I took a trip to Japan, so it was amazing to see Tokyo, the city I was researching for the coin design, in real life.
What did you want it to communicate?
Because the Tokyo Olympic Games has a more youthful vibe than past games, I wanted my designs to have a modern look, while capturing the atmosphere of the host city, a bustling, modern metropolis. This edition of the Games is the first time new sports such as skateboarding, surfing and baseball have appeared, so I felt it was important to represent them in the design. Featured together they project a youthful energy that I really hope shines through.
Talk us through the different elements of the coin.
One of my aims was to create a design that someone holding the coin can engage with. The viewing experience becomes a game in itself as you try to work out what each of the sporting icons represents. From the running shoe for athletics to the carabiner and rope for sport climbing, it would be great to think this coin will inspire conversations around Team GB and get people to look at their change more closely.
What were your biggest challenges in approaching this design?
One of the biggest difficulties in creating the design was arranging all the sporting icons to fill the 50p canvas in an organised way. This involved a lot of tweaking to ensure the line weights were balanced across the design. Another challenge was deciding whether it should exclusively feature sports that Team GB would be competing in or the Games as a whole. It was decided to progress with all the sports so as to capture the spirit of the Tokyo games and inclusivity for all athletes.
How did you want the coin to be received?
I’m sure Japan’s friendly people, their vibrant capital and the sheer variety of sports being staged will inspire people across the world to get up off the couch and take part in more physical activity. It’s a great feeling to know my design will be seen by the British public and all around the world.