Mr. Jamie Franki was one of the
many people who entered a competition of the U.S. Mint. To
win this competition, you had to submit a design for the new
United States nickel. He won and now his designs are on the new buffalo nickel
and Jefferson 1800 nickel.
Another design of his was the coaching medallion of the 2008 U.S.
Olympic Team. The team interviewed him by email.
Question: What is the process for getting selected by the U.S. Mint to
design a coin? Did you have to express interest in some way?
In 2003, the Mint advertised a "call for entries" to apply for
it's Artistic Infusion Program.
The AIP was set up to establish a group of American artists who
could be eligible to participate as design subcontractors for
coinage development competitions. Hundreds of people sent in
applications, consisting of a design test (a quarter reverse), a
portfolio and a 500 word essay. I was selected as one of 24
artists to join the new program.
Question: What are the steps that you have to go through to get
selected from start to finish?
Every design started with a work order, supplying all the
required text elements (called "legends") and descriptions in
narrative form for the relief-sculpted images (called
"devices.") We submitted our layouts in 8" diameter
compositions. Each design had several artists competing for
selection. All the designs went through a rigorous jury process
with multiple reviewing panels. Revisions were often requested.
In the end, all jury recommendations were considered by the
Secretary of the Treasury, who ultimately made each final
Question: Did you work with the mint in Denver or Philadelphia?
Did you go the mint itself at any point in the design? Do guest
artists hide their initials in the design?
We (the AIP artists) went to a 3-day orientation and guided tour
through the Philadelphia Mint.
We also convened in Washington DC at US Mint headquarters. It
was fascinating! No, guest artists don't hide their initials (or
anything else) in any design. This is very serious stuff, so an
artist fortunate enough to be chosen would be ill-advised to
hide something in an image concept. I was, however, asked to
provide a design for my initials which was integrated on my two
chosen nickel designs. On the Bison nickel, there is a JNF under
the leading rear leg, and on the Jefferson 1800 nickel my
initials were included on President Jefferson's left shoulder.
They are tiny, but I'm proud they are there!
Question: We are assuming that artists get paid for their work.
Since you are more familiar with this part of the process, is
there a general amount that guest artists get for successfully
designing a coin? Is there some kind of ceremony when the
first coin is pressed or put into circulation?
We were paid 1000 dollars for each work order, and an additional
1000 dollars if our designs were selected for minting.
Every new coin has an opening ceremony, which serves to
introduce the coin and validate the nature of it's design and
idea content. It was an honor to be at both
opening ceremonies for my chosen
nickel designs. The US Mint announces these events on their
website and generally invites the media to attend.
Question: We also understand that you designed an Olympic coaching
medallion. Was this through the mint or was it done for an
outside source in conjunction with the U.S. Treasury
Department--or was it the Olympic Committee [United States
Olympic Committee]? Did you get to
keep a commemorative medal from that?
My contract with the US Mint ended in 2006, but i have been
creating designs for medals since then on an independent basis.
The Olympic coaching medal was a national contest. Winning that
particular design contest was a very proud moment for me as an
American. (The USOC is a
private organization, not affiliated with the Federal
Government.) Yes, I did get 3 copies of the medal. One I kept
for myself, one I gave to my parents and the other I am donating
to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where I work
as a professor.
Question: Do you
get your drawings back or how does this work?
The layouts we sent in became the property of the US Mint and
were not returned.
interview and picture the
Olympic medal. 17 Mar 2009 to Club Web.