David Pickup forward this article from the Royal Mint blog about coin designer Lee
Jones. Thanks. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
Talented Royal Mint Engraver, Lee Jones, is the artist behind the coin that honours literary
giant Dylan Thomas and celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth. Lee’s design has elicited
much comment so, in a recent interview with him, we’ve gone ‘behind the design’ to find out what it
was like to design the coin that commemorates one of his heroes.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lee…
Well, I’m 40 and I’m from Gelli in the Rhondda. I studied Animation at Glyntaff College. I’ve
been an Engraver at The Royal Mint for almost 9 years now. Before joining The Royal Mint I was
running my own animation business, working for various companies from London to Canada.
What does your job generally involve and what do you most enjoy about it?
My job involves a lot of design, modelling and tooling work, to not only produce the final
designs but the working dies used to strike the coins. You can have a design to go on a coin or you
can design a coin – and that’s what we do. To design a coin you have to look at the blank and see
how it’s going to work technically as well. I work on both circulation and commemorative coins: for
circulation coin designs you have to represent the country and say something about the culture;
whereas with commemorative coin designs you can tell more of a story, it’s more art-based.
We understand you are a BIG fan of Dylan Thomas. How did you feel about designing a coin for
someone whose work you admire?
I asked for the project! I saw it on the plan and I said ‘I want to do that!’ – so the Chief
Engraver awarded the project to me. I would’ve fought to do it! As a fan of Dylan Thomas, I didn’t
want to ‘let him down’. I wanted to give a true, in-depth view of him and all the aspects of his
character expressed in his works. Interesting fact: when I first started here, one of my apprentice
pieces was a ‘Dylan Thomas’ design.
What aspects of Dylan Thomas’ work or personality did you most want to depict?
I didn’t want to present the obvious, such as a profile with a bit of text. I wanted to
represent Dylan as that poet, who’s haunted. When I spoke to his grand-daughter, Hannah Ellis, she
said ‘you’ve got that haunted look in his eyes, that’s right, that’s how it should be’.
Did you use any images in particular for your inspiration?
I sourced various photos of him; the one of him standing in front of a book-case is what formed
the basis of the design. I wanted to capture that ‘1,000 yard’ stare in his eyes in that image.
To read the complete article, see:
Behind the design: Dylan
Thomas 100 (blog.royalmint.com/behind-design-dylan-thomas-coin/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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