When the competition to design California’s version of a commemorative U.S. quarter was announced last fall, I debated whether to enter something. Any attempt to represent something meaningful in a space the size of a coin or a 32-by-32-pixel icon requires a certain skill and discipline that not every designer possesses, or cares to hone. My time ran out, and nothing was entered.
The appointed quarter committee recently selected 20 designs as finalists. Governor Davis will narrow the selection down to 5, rank each of them by preference, then pass them on to the U.S. Mint and other government organizations for review.
I share Tantek’s sentiment, and hope we avoid any Hollywood or filmstrip-based designs. However, while I think the Golden Gate Bridge is a highly recognized symbol of the Bay Area and the West Coast in general, I wonder if it’s the best icon for the state? California is highly diverse, especially considering its geographic spread from north to south, and the various climates, cultures, and styles it contains. This will be a difficult state to pin down in one representational design.
If I had to choose the bridge, more tweaking to coin #4 or coin #20 would allow them to become likely candidates. Personally, I’d prefer one of the nature-based designs to those that highlight anything man-made. I’m drawn toward #17. Not just because it was designed by a good friend, former design director, and manager of mine at Wired. More because it’s simple, clean, iconic, and unique to California. I love the subtle tree rings in the background — but use of the Latin species name for Giant Sequoia is overkill.