Why do I design coins and medals?

From 2004 to 2006, I developed concept illustrations for the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. Since then, I continued my practice as a medallic concept illustrator for a variety of invited commissions and National/International competitions. This led me to begin sculpting my own medal designs. Recently, I’ve come back to my starting point as a US Mint Infusion Artist. In ironic fashion, my studio practice keeps moving in circles.

Concept Illustration and Design for numismatic projects demands expertise in a wide spectrum of areas including typography, translation of subject to monochrome and metallurgy. Research and development of concept into clear, iconic depiction is crucial. Bas-relief modeling in clay and sculpting in plaster require different skills posing even deeper technical challenges. The ability to collaborate is necessary as well — as no one person creates a coin or a medal.

A colleague once told me “Most coin designs are losers.” Most of the designs I’ve researched and developed for competitive projects were never struck as a coin or a medal. Such is the unpredictable nature of the intense competition in this field. That said, I find each opportunity to create these designs to be fascinating. One rarely wins every design contest, but for me, the thrill of the competition and the research of each idea are ultimately rewarding.

My creativity is fueled by a desire to commemorate important ideas. It is my calling to spend my time and energy as an artist, creating work that celebrates greatness and educating the general public. Circulating coins and commemorative medals do precisely that. They remind us of who we can be, when we are at our best.




Jamie Franki

Associate Chair, Department of Art and Art HIstory

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

(704) 687-0183