Case Study by Robert Smith RGD, Greenmelon Inc.
The Royal Canadian Mint was seeking a unique package for their collectible set that would be worthy of the solid gold and silver coins they contained.
Research and Analysis
The idea behind the aesthetic of this box was one of discovery and history. The subject, the Woolly Mammoth, can really only be portrayed through artistic interpretation. I decided to pull it back even further and depict the mammoth as it was seen by neolithic humans, presenting it as a cave painting. Extensive research was done into the methods of cave painting from around the world, including Lascaux and other famous sites.
Amusingly, we had a lot of feedback from experts from Drumheller, Alberta, who had a lot to say about the accuracies of the drawing. Though I was rendering an illustration that emulated cave paintings, we still had feedback from experts on the exact anatomy of what I was depicting. Things like a smaller head, longer tusks, etc… nothing too disruptive, but it was fun working with experts who knew so much about this creature no one has seen in ten thousand years. The spirit of what we were trying to depict remained intact, and we were happy knowing that our cave drawing was as true to life as possible.
Having already completed a few wildlife series packages for the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), we took this opportunity of designing for an extinct species a little further than usual. Rather than splash the coin illustration across the box, we developed several concepts built off the theme of excavation and palaeontology. Given the premium nature of the project, we were also permitted to use high quality printing techniques such as embossing, spot varnishes and foils. The design process was particularly thorough, with lots of client feedback involving a number of departments, and included hired experts to check the accuracy of our research.
Once I had the aesthetic nailed down, I created a few original “cave paintings” in a digital format. The result was very convincing and had several people wondering where we found such a fitting cave painting image.
A bold typeface was chosen to emphasize the nature of the Mammoth the box represented.
Parameters from the packaging engineers at the Royal Canadian Mint are always extremely precise. Often times measurements we receive are to a decimal point finer than our programs can even go — now that’s precision! We were only limited when it came to the top and back of the packaging, which needed to stay within their set parameters. However the sides and front of the box were free reign, allowing us to create a complete illustration wrap. We’ve worked on many complex projects with RCM, but the Mammoth box was one of the more straightforward ones. In order to ensure accuracy we make sure that we pass the final files through several people before it goes to print.
Solution & Deliverables
The box was finished with a gold foil and embossment on the type to contrast with the rough illustration and matte paper stock. The client was very happy with the results, and many reviews online for the product compliment the packaging for its accuracy and beauty.
Research is always key when it comes to working on something with any historical references. Our Creative Director is pretty good about getting us out of the office to expand our understanding of what we’re working on, whether that be to the War Museum to get an idea of the timeline we’re trying to encapsulate for a WWII piece, or to the Canadian Museum of Nature for inspiration. Understanding your client’s work goes beyond your desk and it’s important to properly see and understand what it is they’re handing to you. I think we’re all a little guilty of Googling whatever reference we need, but there have been many epiphanies and ideas that have come from getting out of the office and experiencing in person that we never would have achieved.