Canadian pop art breaks new ground on Royal Canadian Mint gift coins designed by artist Gary Taxali, with original packaging by photographer Matt Barnes

OTTAWA, Feb. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - The Royal Canadian Mint is pleased to take Canadian pop art in an exciting direction with new versions of its popular Gift Sets and Tooth Fairy Gift Card featuring special 25-cent collector coins designed by contemporary artist Gary Taxali and original packaging created by photographer Matt Barnes.  Both of these innovative artists have combined their unique talents to give the Mint's Birthday, Wedding, Baby, O Canada Gift Sets and Tooth Fairy Gift Card a fresh and hip new look.  These original collector products have been available to collectors and gift-givers since January 23, 2012.

"Through its great variety of original collector coins, the Royal Canadian Mint is constantly telling the story of Canada, and showcasing our vibrant contemporary art scene is a great way to celebrate our culture," said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.  "The critically acclaimed work of Gary Taxali and Matt Barnes speaks to the talent and imagination of Canada's artists and the Mint is delighted to issue products which continue to celebrate Canadian art in all its forms."

The following describes the products which have resulted from the Mint's collaboration with Gary Taxali and Matt Barnes.


Buyers of the Mint's 2012 gift sets can celebrate a new birth, their love of Canada, the excitement of a wedding or wish a special someone happy birthday in the distinctive styles of Toronto-based artists Gary Taxali and Matt Barnes.  Gary Taxali's trademark retro style, which combines elements of pop and classical art, with 1930s-inspired iconography, has designed the unique 25-cent coins which are the centrepiece of each set.  They appear through die-cuts in the cover of each set folder conceived by commercial photographer Matt Barnes, whose work is firmly rooted in pop culture.

These popular coin sets, which are perennial favourites among gift-givers, are sure to be remembered for their exuberant celebration of contemporary Canadian art.  These gift sets contain Canada's 2012-dated circulating coins, with the 25-cent coin replaced by the uniquely-themed creations of Gary Taxali.  Each set retails for $19.95 CDN, while supplies last.


Matt Barnes and Gary Taxali are also the creative forces behind the Mint's second edition of its hugely successful Tooth Fairy Gift Card.  Gary Taxali's whimsical interpretation of the Tooth Fairy is boldly engraved on the reverse of a multi-ply plated steel 25-cent coin.  This coin is embedded on the cover of the card which contains another photographic composition by Matt Barnes, the inside of which also includes space to write a personal message. This artful memento is available until quantities last for the retail price of $9.95 CDN.

These new Mint products are available directly from the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or on the Internet at They are also available at the Royal Canadian Mint's boutiques in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as through our global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.


The Royal Canadian Mint is looking forward to a demonstration of Canada's first AR coin at a February 16 function it is hosting in honour of Gary Taxali and Matt Barnes at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  AR experts Helen Papagiannis and interactive media company Daqri will show how a smart phone can scan actual coins to reveal the story behind their creation and information on artist Gary Taxali.

Taxali's art books, "I Love You, Ok!" and "Mono Taxali", as well as a limited-edition print entitled "Coins" commemorating the 2012 Gift Sets, will also be available for purchase.  An image of the print can be viewed at

About Gary Taxali
Gary Taxali is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist - and one of Canada's foremost contemporary artists. His portfolio includes work for clients such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Converse, Nintendo, Time magazine, Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire, and The New York Times.  Gary is a member of the Stamp Advisory Committee to Canada Post.  Well known to Canadian media, Gary created the cover art and inside illustrations for Aimee Mann's album @#%&*! Smilers to earn a 2009 Grammy Award Nomination for Best Art Package. He has also written and illustrated his own children's book (This is Silly!) (published by Scholastic) and released two monographs this past year entitled   "I Love You, Ok?" (published by teNeues) and "Mono Taxali" (published by 27_9).  He has exhibited in many galleries in North America and Europe, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Antonio Colombo Gallery, Steve Lazarides' Gallery, and The Andy Warhol Museum. His art slickly re-imagines 1930s pop art and iconography to evoke a nostalgic feel with a modern sensibility.  More information can be found at

About Matt Barnes
British born, but Canadian-bred, Toronto-based photographer Matt Barnes was delighted to collaborate on the packaging for a new series of coins for the Royal Canadian Mint, as a means to honour his adopted country.  "I arrived in Canada when I was eleven," Matt recalled, "which coincided with the 125th anniversary of Canada; the celebrations were unlike anything I'd ever seen." 

This kind of imagery remained fresh in Matt's mind, and sprang forth with ease when a scenario involving a parade was decided upon for one of the photographs.  "Port Dover, a town not far from rural Normandale where I lived, takes Canada Day very seriously. Indeed, they've had a parade each year since 1867, a fact not far from my mind when I was shooting for the Canadian Mint."

The shores of Lake Erie were but a stone's throw away from Matt's childhood home, the land of which doubled as a successful campground owned and operated by his parents.  "My parents have since traded sands of Lake Erie for those of the Annapolis Basin, but visits to Digby, Nova Scotia are equally inspirational to me and my work."

An outsider has the ability to look at what we take for granted with unique perspective. "I will always embrace my English heritage," Matt affirms, "but Canada is my home...I'm Canadian!"  For more, visit

About the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada's circulation coins. An ISO 9001-2008 certified company, the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit.

Images and product details of the Mint's newest collection are available by visiting

SOURCE Royal Canadian Mint

For further information:

Christine Aquino
Director, Communications
Telephone: (613) 993-9999 


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