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Gary Taxali at The Royal Canadian Mint

By Peggy Roalf   Tuesday January 24, 2012

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Toronto-based artist Gary Taxali (above), a longtime friend of DART/AI-AP, is on a roll. For the year 2011, he scored a triple, with publication of two retrospective books, either one of which would make any artist proud. Not only that, his work was included in the Made In Polaroid exhibition and auction at Phillips de Pury last September.

Since then, he was appointed to the Stamp Advisory Committee for Canada Post. So I wasn’t completely surprised to read Gary’s email the other day about his collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mint, for which he created a series of six celebratory 25-cent coins on the themes of Birthday, Wedding, Tooth Fairy, New Baby, O Canada, and Holiday. (The coins will be released at the beginning of February).

The coins feature Taxali’s recognizable pop culture imagery infused with his retro graphic vintage style. The words “25 Cents”, “2012” and “Canada” are depicted on the coins in Gary’s famous font called “Chumply”, the first time the Mint has allowed an artist to change the typography on coins.

I was wondering how a hands-on, mainly 2-D artist like Gary might envision what the dimensional surface of a coin would really be like when translated from his flat art. In a recent article in Maclean’s, the question was answered: The hardest part of the project came when he tried to imagine how his drawings would translate as monochromatic reliefs, because until now, he has always worked in color and primarily on large flat surfaces.

For inspiration, Taxali kept a quarter next to his computer, but in the early stages, he often found himself thinking, “I just can’t see it. The real estate of a coin is so tiny!” With the mint’s help, Gary was eased through the coin-making process. Once finished with his designs, he sent them to Ottawa, where they were rendered in a software program that simulated his pen marks in a three-dimensional form and with varying degrees of texture. “They took my big fat lines and turned them into edges that could be raised,” says Taxali.

The mint also dealt with details that never occurred to him, “like how when metal is poured it’s really heavy in the middle and then spreads out, so the coin’s edges are more fragile than its center.”Read the entire article in Maclean’s here. More from Gary about his experience creating the coins, visit his blog, abd his website here. Photo above: Jaime Hogge.

The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada’s circulation coins. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit. www.mint.ca.

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