NOTE: I reached out to LeRoy Transfield, the winner of the design competition for the World War I Centennial Commemorative dollar coin to ask about his experience with the design competition. Yesterday, I posted a write-up he provided to me. Today, are his answers to additional questions I had.
Coin Collectors Blog: I see from your website that your expertise is sculpting larger works, such as statues. Were there techniques you have used in the past that helped you with the design process?
LeRoy Transfield: I haven’t done that many low relief sculptures before although I have had many years of experience in high relief. I mostly do the figure but from my early training in college I learnt that basic elements and principles of design plays a big role.
CCB: Did you have interaction with the selection committee? Did they ask for modifications, specifically based on their ability to strike a proper coin?
LT: I didn’t have any interaction with the committee other than when I spoke to them when they called me to say I won. They made some modifications to my submission such as making the rifle more accurate and the helmet more covered. The drawing they presented is actually not mine. I think there are problems with it such as around the eyes, proportions a little off on the soldier. But I think the final coin sculpted by Don Everhardt will look a lot better than that.
CCB: How were you notified that you won the competition?
LT: I was in Hawaii working on a project there which is a nice place to receive good news. They emailed me saying they wanted a conference call with me. It was 4 officials from the mint, The director, the head sculptor Don Everhardt, Meagan the project manager and one other can’t remember that one: sorry:8. I was informed I won and that the judging was unanimous that my design was outstanding among the entries. Don was very nice and said I did very nice figure work and that I had ‘nailed the design.’ I understand the project was his last sculpture before he retired. It was a very exciting time and a little stressful considering what it meant for the future and that I didn’t really think I would win since it was my first coin attempt. The $10,00 prize was also a great bonus and justified the summer I spent staring off into space, doodling and sitting around looking at war movies (Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iowa Jima and Band of Brothers were my favorite).
CCB: Now that you won your first design competition for the U.S. Mint, would you consider entering another? Would you consider becoming a member of the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program?
LT: I am a finalist for the Apollo 11 coin which we have already submitted our entries to. I as in my WW 1 coin design, I am pleased with what I came up with and whether it does well or not, I am happy to have to judged and my initials to the coin if it does win. I think this competition will be interesting because they said they will post the entries online but the committee will make the final decision. I didn’t enter the Breast Cancer Awareness coin because at the time I couldn’t think of anything that would say that in a coin. I could have thought of some cool designs but nothing (appropriate) to say oh yes that coin is to do with breast cancer.
I would become a member if they asked. I think sometimes the coins the mint puts out are too illustrative and rely too much on technology (such as Z brush). Coins are very hard to design especially in low relief since there are so many rules and so many things that look bad when translated to low relief. In the end I would use the ultimate test I do on any sculpture I make, to stand well back and be as objective as possible and say-does it look any good?
I would like to thank LeRoy Transfield for his time!