Face to face with coin designer Dominique Evans
The challenge to design a coin celebrating British diversity was placed on the desk of Dominique Evans, a long-standing graphic designer at The Royal Mint and the creator of some of the most well-known and admired coin designs of recent years. Her portfolio of designs includes the Sapphire Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, a coin celebrating the life and work of Jane Austen, and a commemorative coin for Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
Dominique reflects on this important brief and how her experiences shaped her response as well as giving an insight into her approach as a designer.
“Over many centuries, coins have been an integral part of the fabric of our lives, marking the timeline of the monarchy, celebrating and commemorating moments in history, as well as facilitating the purchases we make every day. When designing a coin, I feel it is so important that the subject is at the heart of the design and my job as a designer is to focus on communicating that. My great love is generating ideas, though with a subject as important and personal as diversity, the idea should absolutely come out of understanding and research.
“I have my own account of the twists and turns in my life, but for this design it was crucial I look far beyond myself and across everyone and everything, listening to and imagining the difference of experience connecting us through our generations, genetics and lineage. The sense of the word ‘connection’ kept coming up in my research journey and I also kept feeling and seeing the stark reminders of fractured connections that can in stark contrast, separate and divide.”
Dominique went on to recount how during a break from the research and away from the desk, new ideas started to form.
“I remember the day vividly; I was at my grandmother’s house by the sea and I sat in the garden looking up at the seagulls flying together in the sky, apart yet connected by the wind. When I went inside I wrote the words ‘Belonging Under One Sky’. I always find that words give clarity to thoughts and a pause to contemplate when moving from researching on to creating. From there I wrote this short piece:
I believe, no matter who we are, where we are born, live and call home, we are all born and belong under the same sky. Time gives us age, ethnicity our appearance and circumstances our status, yet we all begin our lives with the ability to learn, understand, accept and love. Our beliefs may make our lives feel worlds apart, identity sometimes somewhat of a curiosity, yet we can still connect, develop bonds and grow stronger together.
“The shape of the coin is always very important, so I looked at the angular nature of the 50p coin and explored different shapes that could be contained within it, and that also symbolised all the points of connection working together. Some of these looked aesthetically pleasing, but I felt it would be most appropriate for the shape to be more defined and robust. I was fascinated by how it could be both a symbolic shape and also have impact within the structure of the coin.
“A shape that seemed very appropriate was the geodome, a sphere made up of a series of interconnecting lines and triangles that form a network, each part as important as the other in creating a symbol of connection and strength. The structure grows stronger as it grows larger and, when reading the words of Buckminster Fuller, one of those who developed the engineering and mathematical principles behind the geodesic dome structure, it seemed fitting that this shape could be used. After a time of great tragedy, he resolved to make his life ‘… an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.’
“Words, if they are to appear on a coin, are extremely important. As coins are symbols of moments in history and time, the words on them need to endure as much as the metal they are made of. When thinking of what the words should be, quite often the answer is right there in the purpose, research and direction of your work. The inscription, ‘DIVERSITY BUILT BRITAIN’, speaks of our individual differences and qualities, which have come together through connections and relationships to create something strong and united. They are also words we can take with us into the future, as we continue to create bonds, increase our understanding and grow as individuals to become stronger and look forward together.”