3D Animation Alumni Calder Moore Talks Designing Coins for the Canadian Mint

Canadian Mint Polar Bear
Canadian Mint Polar Bear

Words: Sean Ridgeway

There aren’t many people who can say their work is literally worth cold, hard cash-in-hand; but with his ongoing work for the Canadian Mint, Centre for Arts & Technology 3D Animation alumni Calder Moore is certainly one of them.

Animation Department Head Sean Ridgway caught up with his ex-student.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist?

A: Growing up watching sci-fi, fantasy movies, playing video games like Halo and WOW definitely inspired me. I loved to draw all the time, build forts with my friends, act out scenes from movies and such. I would grab World of Warcraft books and copy their art, while also designing my own little orc guys. My parents were really supportive of my artistic goals and would always buy me new art supplies and such.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study to help you become the artist you are today?

A: I grew up in Salmon Arm and had a pretty active lifestyle. In addition to art, games, and movies, I was into soccer, dirt biking. In high school, I took as many art classes as I could, as well as computer courses. Grade 11 first introduced me to 3D software and that’s when I knew art was really in my future.

Graduating high school, I actually got a job in construction and did that for four years. I still found that I was always drawing in my spare time and a construction job was not what I wanted to continue with. I found the Centre for Arts & Technology and the rest is history.

I now live in Burnaby, BC and work at Atomic Cartoons as a texture artist. On the side, I do art commissions, personal art and design coins for the Canadian Mint.

Q: How did you start designing for the Canadian Mint?

A: I was approached by the Mint, in addition to 3 other artists, and we competed on the first coin design for the low poly nature series. I won that competition which allowed me to design the whole series and it opened the door to designing subsequent coin series.

Q: How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind from start to finish?

A: I’ve designed about 25 coins. It’s been quite the endeavor. Only about 14 have been released.

For the first series of coins, it was a low poly series. I was given the specs and the ‘theme’ of the series. The first one was a polar bear. I did up about 20 different sketches of what the design could be and submitted that to them. They gave feedback on what they liked and through that back and forth process, whittled it down to one final design. By then I had started doing some 3D models, to give a more accurate look to the Mint of what the coin could look like in the end.

Throughout the process, I watched a lot of nature footage and studied images of polar bears and their cubs. The Mint really liked my process and art style and continued to hire me afterwards.

Q: What are some of the things that you have worked on?

A: I started at Nerdcorps Entertainment after graduation (bought by DHX Media in 2015) in August 2013. I was a modeling/texturing/ rigging on ‘Blaze and the Monster Machines’, quickly moved up the ladder to senior modeler then went to ICON Creative a year later and modeled/textured on Disney’s ‘Elena of Avalor’.

Currently, I am working on a new CG show which I can’t divulge. I’ve done some album covers, freelance gigs in addition to my full-time job and the coins.

Q: What advice would you give current CAT students?

A: My advice, don’t stop!! Be confident with your work, and most importantly, have fun doing it! If you can’t find work in the industry right away, keep working on your portfolio and staying up to date with new hiring waves. It’s very easy to stop doing something and extremely hard to get back into it. Don’t give up and stay focused!