United States Mint Call for Artists: Seeking Artists to Design United States Coins and Medals

Application Deadline: January 10, 2014
Work Samples to be uploaded by:  January 28, 2014
Applicants Notified if Selected to Submit a Paid Drawing Exercise: by February 28, 2014

Individuals are required to submit their applications electronically through Grants.gov, the federal government’s online application system. The Grants.gov system will accept applications through 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on January 10, 2014.

About the United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program

The designs on United States coins and medals are more than simple illustrations on small metal discs; they are expressions of the values, aspirations, and shared heritage of our Nation. They serve as illustrations to the world of the essence and the story of America.

The United States Mint is seeking artists interested in taking coin and medal design in new directions and trying new approaches as part of our endeavor to ensure that the designs on United States coins and medals are of the highest quality to best represent our country for years to come.

Subject to the conditions and criteria below, the United States Mint will award contracts to up to 20 artists to participate in the United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) and submit designs for selected coin and medal programs. Depending on the number of active years in the AIP, artists receive between $2000 and $3000 for each design submission and an additional $5000 if their design is selected and used for a coin or medal design. All selected designs are sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engravers, who also prepare designs for coin and medal programs.  Artists of selected designs are named as designer in historical documents, Certificates of Authenticity and promotional materials.  In most cases, the artist’s initials appear on the final coins or medals (along with the initials of the United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver who sculpted the selected design).

Background

The United States Mint established the AIP in 2003 to enrich and invigorate United States coin and medal designs by contracting with individuals from among a pool of talented, professional American artists representing diverse backgrounds and a variety of interests. These artists create and submit new designs to the United States Mint for United States coins and medals.

Since 2003, AIP artists have submitted successful designs for the 50 State Quarters® Program and the current America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, the Presidential and Native American $1 Coin Programs, the First Spouse Gold Coin and Bronze Medal Program, the American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin Program, more than 12 commemorative coin programs, and several  Congressional Gold Medals. In addition, AIP artists designed the current reverse of the one-cent coin and the current obverse on the 5-cent coin.

The Details

Artists participating in the AIP will be awarded a contract with a base period (one full year plus the remainder of the year of award) and up to five option years. Under this contract, artists are invited to submit designs for United States Mint coin and medal programs. When designs are required for a coin or medal program, the United States Mint will issue the invitations through contract task orders to any or all AIP artists to submit obverse (heads side) and/or reverse (tails side) designs. The AIP contract includes legal requirements for the transfer of rights, which means that all AIP design submissions must be assigned to the United States Mint and will become its sole and exclusive property.

The United States Mint will pay AIP artists a fixed-fee per task order based on the following payment schedule for each obverse or reverse design submitted for a coin or medal program as required by that particular task order:

Years in AIP

Fee per task order

0-2

$2,000

3-5

$2,500

6 or more

$3,000

If the Secretary of the Treasury or his designee selects any of the AIP artist’s submissions under a particular task order for use on a coin or medal, the United States Mint will pay the AIP artist an additional $5,000 per design used.

While AIP artists may work from any location, they are expected to meet established deadlines and communicate as necessary with the United States Mint design team by the telephone and email. In addition, AIP artists may be requested to edit their designs to ensure historical accuracy, appropriateness or coinability.

The AIP artists are required to attend symposia or new artist orientations, as scheduled.  Artists may be asked to design several coins and commemorative medals throughout the year as opportunities arise.

The Challenge

AIP artists are invited to submit designs for nearly all United States coin and medal programs, including (by way of example) the Presidential $1 Coin Program, the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the Native American $1 Coin Program, the First Spouse Gold Coin and Bronze Medal Program, annual commemorative coin programs (two each year) and Congressional Gold Medal Programs. 

The subject matter of the assignments varies across the programs. For example, some programs require portraits, some require design emblematic of landscapes, and many—as is the case with the First Spouse Gold Coin and Bronze Medal Program—images emblematic of the honoree’s life and work. Complex ideas and concepts often must be conveyed through the coin and medal designs. As an example, the recently enacted Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act calls for the award of three Congressional Gold Medals of appropriate design in honor of the men and women who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Artists are expected to distill a program’s design theme to its essence, representing these complicated subjects on a very small palette.

In creating coin and medal designs that will be translated into bas-relief sculpture, artists must take into consideration the idea of relief, depth and negative space. Although designs often begin as an illustration, artists must think three-dimensionally and consider the type of metal (e.g., gold, silver, platinum, clad, bronze) that will bear the design.

Whether a particular AIP artist’s work is more realistic or more stylized, artists typically use a variety of resource materials to translate and interpret a wide-range of subjects and concepts into designs. The United States Mint is seeking artists who can bring innovative perspectives and who can effectively utilize symbolism to create original artwork that successfully conveys a particular subject matter.

Eligibility

To qualify you must be a citizen of the United States, you must be willing to accept the Terms and Conditions, and you must be an established professional artist, defined as one who meets all of the following criteria:

  • has at least five years of relevant work experience, or has received specialized training in his or her artistic field, such as a degree or certification
  • derives a portion of his or her individual earned income from his or her art or areas related to his or her art
  • has experience in digital art techniques such as use of Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Illustrator, Wacom tablets or similar technology
  • has a professional portfolio that includes published or publicly displayed art

Requirements and Criteria

To be considered for the AIP, you must submit an application containing the following required materials.  All artists who are interested in being considered must submit an application by January 10, 2014, and upload representative work samples by January 28, 2014.  Detailed instructions can be found in "How to Prepare and Submit an Application"

1. RESUME

A professional resume to include information on your professional training; a list of exhibits, collections, public presentations or publications in which your work has been featured; and a list of any grants, awards, honors or professional prizes you have received. 

2. PERSONAL STATEMENT

A statement, no more than 250 words in length, in which you describe your work as an artist and how it might contribute to the United States Mint’s goal of invigorating the design of our Nation’s coins and medals. Specifically, what about working with the United States Mint interests you and what makes you a good candidate for the AIP?

3. SAMPLES OF WORK

Up to 10 samples of your work as an artist.  Please label each image with the title of the work, its materials, and its dimensions. Applicants are encouraged to submit works that display a variety of talent and ability. Please consider what is required of an AIP artist when selecting your work samples.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Demonstration of ability to convey complex concepts with symbolism
  • Masterful application of ingenuity in interpreting the subject matter and conveying its theme
  • Demonstration that the applicant is adaptable to different subject matters and themes
  • Demonstration of ability to render figures, portraits, animals and landscapes with the use of perspective and scale  

4. DEMONSTRATION DESIGN

Following a preliminary review of these materials (estimated to be around February 28, 2014), the United States Mint will invite a select pool of approximately 25 artists to complete and submit a demonstration design for an actual United States Mint coin or medal program. Invited applicants will be paid a fee of $1500 for this work and be eligible to receive an additional $5000 (and have their initials appear on the coin or medal) if their design is selected. All design submissions must be accompanied by a completed and signed rights transfer document that will be provided by the United States Mint with the invitation.

The demonstration design is a heavily weighted portion of the application, specifically evaluating the candidate’s potential for success in the AIP based on the criteria below.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Overall quality and creativity in interpreting the subject matter for a coin or medal
  • Use of symbolism
  • Clarity of idea and communication
  • Appropriate level of detail for the scale and material of coins and medals
  • Good design sense, composition and balance of space
  • Effective incorporation of required text
  • Receptivity to design critique/feedback
  • Effective execution of requested modifications, if any
  • Meeting set deadlines and communicating with United States Mint staff professionally 


Questions

Please direct all content related inquiries to the United States Mint at AIP@usmint.treas.gov.

Technical questions about the electronic submission of work samples through the NEA GrantsOnline System should be directed to AIP@arts.gov.

For additional help on how to use Grants.gov, please see the Grants.gov website at Help. You also can send e-mail to the Grants.gov Contact Center at support@grants.gov or call them at 1-800-518-4726, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Terms and Conditions

• As a condition of participation, each Artist must enter into a one-year agreement with the United States Mint, renewable at the United States Mint’s discretion, with up to five option years, to participate in the AIP and submit designs for selected coin and medal programs.

• When it is determined that a United States Mint coin or medal program will require designs by the AIP artists, an invitation to submit designs will be extended to some or all of the artists, as determined by the needs of the program.  

• Artists will be paid $2000 to $3000 per task order for any and all designs submitted for a specified program.

• An additional $5000 will be paid to the artist whose obverse or reverse design is ultimately selected and used for any coin or medal for which a task order to submit a design was extended.

• All design submissions to the United States Mint must be assigned to the United States Mint and will become its sole and exclusive property. The contract will include legal requirements for the transfer of rights. All submissions must be accompanied by a completed and signed rights transfer document that will be provided by the United States Mint with each invitation. (Please see attached legal requirements for submission of designs to the United States Mint.)

• To remain active in the AIP, artists must accept at least one invitation during each year of their agreement by submitting an appropriate design, which meets the conditions and requirements of the AIP program, as well as the specific coin or medal program criteria.

• Although an artist whose contract has expired may reapply to the program and qualify for a new contract, the United States Mint will not award to an artist more than two consecutive contracts without at least a one-year break in service. Additionally, an artist may not serve as an AIP artist for more than 14 years in total.

• Artists may be responsible for any necessary revisions to their submitted designs as requested by the United States Mint.  Changes may relate to historical accuracy, appropriateness or coinability.

Legal Requirements

If selected to participate in the Artistic Infusion Program, you must agree to the following legal requirements.

All coin and medal designs that you submit to the United States Mint must be assigned to the United States Mint and will become its sole and exclusive property. All submissions must be accompanied by a completed and signed rights transfer document that will be provided to you by the United States Mint with each invitation.

Please consider that, as an AIP artist, you may be asked to:

  • Relinquish and transfer to the United States Mint in perpetuity all rights in designs you submit to the United States Mint, and in their drafts, even if the design or draft was prepared before signing a contract with the United States Mint or are not ultimately used by the United States Mint. This means that you will not retain any rights in these designs or drafts, and will not be able to use or allow others to use them (or designs substantially similar to them) without specific written permission from the United States Mint in its sole discretion. For example, without permission you may not be able to display these designs or drafts on a web site, or license them for use by any third party. You also may not be able to use or license an unused version or draft, even if it existed before you signed your contract.

  • Ensure that your submitted designs are entirely original. (Designs and revisions must not be copied in whole or in part from other works, and source materials are for reference use only.) If your design affects third party rights (such as an individual’s name or likeness), you must (without assistance, payment or prompting from the United States Mint) have obtained all consents necessary to ensure that the United States Mint, without further action, will own all rights in the design and its drafts, when you sign your rights transfer agreement. Necessary consents must allow the United States Mint to use and allow others (such as licensees) to use or modify designs in any manner in all media and markets worldwide for commercial or other purposes in perpetuity without further restriction, approvals, permissions or compensation.

  • Waive and agree not to enforce any "moral rights," such as rights of attribution and integrity in specific designs and drafts, and waive any right to inspect or approve any finished product and any advertising, marketing, promotional material or merchandising products and materials. Depending on the specified coin or medal program, the United States Mint may use your design without placing your name or initials on the coin or medal.

  • Make warranties, such as those concerning design ownership originality, third-party rights clearances, and your power and authority to sign our agreements.

  • Indemnify the United States government, for example against any claims for breach of your warranties or for infringement of copyright or other third party rights.

  • Release and hold harmless the United States Mint, the United States government, and their agents and assigns, from claims and/or liability.