Als koning geboren [‘Born as a king’]

I was approached by artist Marjolein Rothman (http://www NULL.marjoleinrothman in May 2013 to design and do the typography for her proposal for a new series of Dutch Euro coins. As part of a competition initiated by the Royal Dutch Mint (http://www NULL.knm, our coins would feature, for the first time, portraits of the new king Willem-Alexander.

Marjolein’s idea was to work with a different portrait (W-A as child, prince, king) for each of the three series of coins (1, 2, 5 cents; 10, 20, 50 cents; 1 and 2 euros). Marjolein made the original portraits out of layering paper and I digitalised them. Meanwhile, we worked together to simplify the different layers in the portraits, and formulate which layering would work best.

WA 1_MR_KarenWilley

WA 2_MR_KarenWilley

WA 3_MR_KarenWilley

(Three portraits of child/Prince/King Willem-Alexander, by Marjolein Rothman, 2013. Photographed by Tom Haartsen.)


A highlight was visiting the Royal Dutch Mint in Utrecht for a technical briefing and tour. It was very ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’: machines spraying out coins, special editions going
by on conveyor belts, employees in white gloves endlessly polishing. Metal detectors made sure that we did not leave carrying any nice souvenirs.

Royal Dutch Mint, Utrecht (http://www NULL.karenwilley NULL.jpg)

(Royal Dutch Mint, Utrecht.)


The initial proposal for the typography involved referencing the original coin typography used
at the time of each of Marjolein’s portraits. Prince Willem-Alexander as a child: birth year 1967. Coin with the portrait of his grandmother Queen Juliana. And Prince Willem-Alexander as
a prince: circa 1985. Coin with the portrait of his mother Queen Beatrix, as designed by
Bruno Ninaber van Eyben.

1967_gulden_KarenWilley 1985_guldenBeatrix_KarenWilley






Only with the third coin series with W-A as king, would we make a completely original design.
But in the process, we decided that this involved too many changes, so we ended up using
the third option for all coin sets.


Our proposal from June 2013:

Muntenreeks MR_Karen Willey Muntenreeks_MR_Karen Willey2 koning nieuw_MR_Karen Willey3

(Proposal coin design 2013/1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 Euro cents, 1 and 2 Euro coins.)


2013-11-02 15.21.26 2013-11-02 15.22.02 2013-11-02 15.22.11 2013-11-02 15.22.27 2013-11-02 15.22.36 2013-11-02 15.22.43 2013-11-02 15.23.00 2013-11-02 15.23.10 2013-11-02 15.23.41 2013-11-02 15.23.52 2013-11-02 15.24.02 2013-11-02 15.24.34 2013-11-02 15.24.44 2013-11-02 15.25.16 2013-11-02 15.25.27 2013-11-02 15.25.44 2013-11-02 15.25.52 2013-11-02 15.26.13 2013-11-02 15.26.24 2013-11-02 15.26.37 2013-11-02 15.26.51

(Explanatory booklet, A5, 40 pages, selfcover, stapled and printed by Drukkerij Atlantic, Amsterdam.)

proposal coin_leperello_KarenWilley















proposal coin_leperello_detail01_KarenWilley proposal coin_leperello_detail02_KarenWilley proposal coin_leperello_detail03_KarenWilley.jpg proposal coin_leperello_detail04_KarenWilley.jpg proposal coin_leperello_detail05_KarenWilley.jpg proposal coin_leperello_detail06_KarenWilley









(Leporello, 1332 x 210 mm folded to A5, edition of twelve signed by Marjolein Rothman, silkscreened by Kees Maas (http://www NULL.interbellum, Amsterdam.)


proposal coin_KarenWilley

(The proposal package given to each jury member.)


In October 2013, Erwin Olaf’s design was officially announced as winner. Afterwards we were informed that our proposal had made it to the second round.

Despite not winning, it was a very satisfying project that combined two of my greatest interests: graphic design and my study goldsmithing.