Creating a coin design for a once-in-a-lifetime event must be an exciting opportunity for an artist or designer. Andrew Ross and Deborah Osborne of the design agency Osborne Ross created the reverse design for the UK 50p coin marking Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Like many of the artists we collaborate with, Osborne Ross is an award-winning agency with a number of accolades to their name. These include a D&AD Gold Award, two D&AD Silver Awards, the Design Week Best of Show, a Clio Silver, a New York Art Directors’ Silver and Bronze, two Graphis Golds and a Silver, the British Book Design Award, and a Third Sector Award for charity work.
After wondering how it felt to be part of the official Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we spoke to Andrew and Deborah about the process and inspiration behind their design.
“It is a wonderful honour to design a coin for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We were both children at the time of the Silver Jubilee in 1977 and remember being presented with commemorative coins. If you had told our younger selves that one day we would be designing something similar for the Platinum Jubilee, we would not have believed you.”
Deborah and Andrew’s design for the commemorative UK 50p coin is in a sparing, typographic style, contrasting a cropped, graphic ‘70’ with the jewel-like gravitas of the Royal Cypher.
“We try not to have a ‘look’ to our work, more of a constant approach: simple, memorable, nothing is extraneous, everything is there for a reason. We follow this approach and see where it takes us.”
Andrew Ross and Deborah Osborne
This philosophy has also seen Osborne Ross design stamps for the Royal Mail, including the ‘Animail’ series of shaped creatures, and the UK 50p coin honouring the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird. Working on coins has been a positive experience, as they describe,
“The internal design team at The Royal Mint are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. Through working with them on previous designs, we have discovered what works both from a visual and a technical point of view. It is very helpful to know the constraints of the process and for the design to work with these rather than against them. The team’s expertise enables them to look at a concept and make suggestions which can make it really sing, it’s a very collaborative process.”
Inspired by timeless, elegant designs from the time of The Queen’s coronation, such as Alexey Brodovitch’s work at Harper’s Bazaar, Osborne Ross’ design links to Brodovitch’s aesthetic with the use of the font Didot, which appears on the coin in a contemporary way. Both Deborah and Andrew were aware that there could be a temptation to,
“… attempt to cover all bases with the design – celebration, pageantry, crowds, the monarch herself and the dates. Imposing restraint on yourselves as designers, paring an object back to its essence can be the greatest challenge, particularly given the historic importance of the commission.”
In recent years, the 50p coin has become a public favourite chronicling significant moments and anniversaries in British history and culture. It plays an important part in our comprehensive collection for this unique celebration but the coin’s iconic shape can present designers with challenges but also opportunities.
“The distinctive shape of a 50p piece provides a designer with interesting possibilities. The angularity allows you to crop into an image in a different way: it provides corners for forms to intersect with, and contrasts nicely with the more fluid shapes of the design.”
Jubilee celebrations have been hugely significant, poignant and evocative markers in many of our lives and the lives of both these designers are no exception. Eleven years old at the time of the Silver Jubilee, Andrew and Deborah remember making hats for a competition, sitting at long trestle tables with school friends in the middle of the street, watching tug of war competitions for the dads and staying up late for a disco.
“By the time of the Diamond Jubilee, we were a little older and more involved in the preparations. We put together souvenir bags with mugs, certificates and little teddy bears for the children, put out the same trestle tables that were used for the Silver Jubilee (this time for our children and their friends), saw old neighbours that we hadn’t seen in years, and were part of a tug of war team (we lost).
“For the Platinum Jubilee, our celebrations will include raising a glass to celebrate and reflect on the life and commitment of a truly remarkable monarch. She has touched so many lives, both here in the UK and across the globe.”
Andrew Ross and Deborah Osborne
You can join the celebrations with our Platinum Jubilee 2022 UK 50p Coin or view the other coins and sets in the collection here.