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Meet the Maker: Ffion Gwillim


Ffion Gwillim is a product designer at The Royal Mint who was delighted to be chosen to work on the coin designs for the Harry Potter coin collection. Just before the launch of the Harry Potter coin, she revealed what it was like working with the cherished characters from the stories, and gave some insight into her approach to the designs.


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When you heard you were going to work on this project, what were you most looking forward to about it?

“Working on Harry Potter was one of the most exciting and magical projects for me to be a part of. When I first heard I would be working on the designs, I was so excited to get started. Harry Potter has played a role in the lives of so many people of different generations.”

Do you have any personal connections to the subject matter?

“I remember growing up and my older brother had the Harry Potter book collection, it was and still is his favourite. I absolutely loved visiting the Harry Potter Studios, it was so magical. When I found out I would be working on this project, I couldn’t wait to rewatch all the films.”

Did you undertake any research for the theme?

“I thought it was only fitting as part of my research to rewatch the films. I researched book cover artwork, posters and the different artistic styles and illustrations that have been created in relation to Harry Potter over the years. It was important to get these coins right because Harry Potter is such a loved story that means so much to so many people not only in the UK, but worldwide. It was important for me to design a coin that people of all ages would appreciate. I wanted to evoke childhood memories of those who would have read the books or seen the films when they were younger but I also wanted to design a coin that would excite a younger audience who may be discovering Harry Potter for the first time.”

How did you approach the design work?

“We started the process by looking through the book illustrated by Jim Kay, and selected our favourite illustrations. There were so many beautiful illustrations, it was a challenge to narrow them down to which ones we were going to use. We discussed what key characters and objects/places we believed would best portray the stories of Harry Potter throughout the series.”



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Was there anything unusual about the design work you were asked to do?

“All four coins in this series include a latent feature. From one angle you can see the famous lightning bolt and when tilted at a different angle you can see ‘25’, in reference to the number of years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published.”

Could you talk us through any iterations that led you to the final design?

“Each of the four coins, Harry Potter, Hogwarts Express, Albus Dumbledore and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, were approached with the same process. It was important for us that all four coins in the series worked individually but also together as a collection to celebrate the 25 years of magic. Each coin went through several stages and tests to ensure it did the magical stories of Harry Potter justice.”

Were there any challenges you faced in creating the design?

“Throughout the coin series we were faced with the challenge of paying close attention to which illustrations would translate well from the book onto coin, especially for a colour-printed coin. We had to consider the colour tone of the illustrations and how much detail would transfer onto metal.”

What was it like working with the celebrated artwork of Jim Kay?

“Working with Jim Kay’s illustrations was a fantastic experience for me; you can see the time and skill put into his illustrations. I had to make sure I was presenting his work in the best way possible.”

What aspect of the design work makes you feel most proud?

“When my designs are accepted and approved, it’s a proud moment for myself. It is also exciting to see all four coins together as a collection.”


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