Greg Banning has been illustrating for over 20 years and he is currently based out of our Nation’s capital. He has done work for numerous big named companies such as Sunkist, Labatt’s, Molson, and Canada Post. The Royal Canadian Mint was going to do a new coin series and they approached him and other Illustrators to come up with designs. The Canoe Across Canada series was to feature six canoe-themed coins and Greg won the commission to become the illustrator.
The Mint started off the process letting Greg know that 'canoes' were the central focus and it was an early memory of his that helped flesh out the design for the whole collection of coins. Growing up, Greg was in the Cub Scouts and saw the Bill Mason film “Paddle to the Sea” which always stuck with him. The adventures of the wooden model of an Indian in a canoe was the first thing that popped into his mind when coming up with a design. “It would be really interesting to show a journey of a canoe going through Canada” said Greg.
The dog was an addition to insert an artistic element into the illustration as a way to direct attention around the coin. “If the canoeist was looking one way, the dog could be looking the other way. It added to the storytelling”.
Greg wanted to tell a story with the coins, but a bit of background research had to be done. The Mint requested areas in various provinces that they wanted to feature, but Greg couldn’t fly himself across Canada to accurately scout each location. He would have to rely on photos, maps and phone calls to local outfitters.
After numerous sketches, Greg would look to see what jumped out at him for each coin. A French movie called "Le dernier trappeur” really helped solidify the direction of the series for Greg. “I based the guy loosely from this character. He’s got a dog and he’s a trapper”.
I asked Greg how difficult the artistic process is for designing a coin to which he replied… “When you start with an idea you want to throw everything in there, but then you have to simplify.”. He starts off with a full sized design, then shrinks it down to the size of the coin, which gives him an indication as to how much detail he can put into it. Make sure to grab a loupe and take in all of the details because Greg still managed to add a lot of texture and elements which you might not see at first glance. “It comes down to… would I want that coin?” laughs Greg.
The Canoe Across Canada 1/2 oz. Fine Silver 6-Coin Subscription offers you six canoe-themed coins that arrive one a month, and in December you will receive a red canoe-shaped box to proudly display them in.
Coin #1: The Wondrous West
Coin #2: Splendid Surroundings
Coin #3: Magnificent Mountains
Coin #4: Serene Scene
Coin #5: Mirror, Mirror
Coin #6: Exquisite Ending
Only 20,000 will be minted, and a subscription is $44.95 plus shipping (per coin).
You can connect with the Royal Canadian Mint by following them on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the 1/2 oz. Fine Silver 6-Coin Subscription — Canoe Across Canada which also makes a great gift.