In 2022, we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Today, the story remains adored by readers throughout the world and its mischievous protagonist is one of Beatrix Potter’s most cherished characters. Peter Rabbit™ bounds back onto a coin this year, one that features an endearing design put together by Ffion Gwillim, a product designer at The Royal Mint. Based on an original illustration of Peter Rabbit by the story’s multitalented author, Ffion’s design wonderfully captures the playfulness of the beloved tale.
Possessing an innate talent for portraying children’s characters in miniature, Ffion’s designs have previously featured on coins commemorating Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. We recently caught up with Ffion and asked her about her process and inspiration behind her design for this coin celebrating The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
What attracted you to this project?
“I was so happy to be the chosen designer for this project. Over the years, the Beatrix Potter collection has been a popular favourite with our customers; it really has been an honour to add my new coin design to the collection.”
Beatrix Potter was a talented illustrator as well as an accomplished writer. What are your thoughts on her illustrations used in the books?
“Beatrix Potter’s illustrations are so beautiful; it was a real privilege working with her illustrations, especially Peter Rabbit and his blue coat. I like the way she has portrayed the creatures as natural looking. It makes it more magical to think any rabbit a child might see would lead a life like Peter – filled with fun and mischievous antics.”
How was the experience designing a new coin in the Beatrix Potter range?
“It was an incredible experience designing a new coin celebrating 120 years of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. These designs will last forever in coin form which is something you think of when designing.”
Was there anything you took inspiration from for the design?
“As the coin is a celebration of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, I knew from the beginning that I wanted the coin to be cheerful and have a celebratory feel. I took inspiration from the colourful floral illustrations seen throughout the book and, of course, it was only fitting to include the iconic image of Peter Rabbit in his blue coat that we all know and love.”
How was the process of creating a design for such an iconic story and character?
“After reading through the design brief, I started looking through Beatrix Potter’s illustrations and selecting my favourite images. When I was happy with my collection of illustrations, I then started to sketch and digitally create compositions bringing together different elements. Once I was happy with my design concepts, I presented them to the team ready for discussion and finalising. Seeing my design come to life at model stage was incredible.”
Did you encounter any challenges in creating the design?
“Taking the different floral elements from pages in the book to create a new scene on a round coin was a welcomed compositional challenge – applying colour to such a detailed coin also took a lot of care and precision.”
Could you share your thoughts on the finished product?
“I am so pleased with the finished product. I think the amount of time and effort put in by all the people involved in this project has definitely paid off. I love this coin and I hope our customers and coin collectors do too!”