ROLANDAS RIMKUNAS, major lituanian coin designer and artist
- November 24, 2017
NUMISMAG interviewed ROLANDAS RIMKUNAS, a well known lituanian coin designer. His last creation is the 2017 €20 lituanian coin dedicated to ruthenian bible. NUMISMAG thanks Rolandas for the time he took answering our questions.
NUMISMAG: Rolandas may you make your own personal presentation?
Rolandas RIMKUNAS: I was born into a political prisoner’s family in 1963, at that time Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. My father was 15 years old when he was arrested in 1946, tortured and on 1948 sentenced to 8 years in Gulag prison for supporting Lithuanian partisans. Therefore my career possibilities in Soviet Union were very limited. After school, during 1984-1986, I was working as a carpenter in a foundry of cast iron. Then after serving in the Soviet Army near Moscow for two years I acquired a glass artist’s speciality. Only in 1990 after Lithuania restored it’s independency I entered Vilnius Academy of Arts Graphic department to do my bachelors degree. In 1998 I received a master degree in Art.
N.: What kind of event or person did push you in direction of an artistic career?
R.R: Art itself in Soviet themed reality to me appeared like an island of freedom, where one can feel allegedly free and independent. Most likely the longing of freedom and self-expression pushed me to choose this particular path.
I divide my activities in to two main separate parts. It’s like a peculiar split of personality. I consider myself an artist independent from galleries, managers and money, and at the same time a professional graphic designer. The majority of work I do involves coin designs, heraldry, package design, logo design, visual identity and book illustrations.
Coin design and heraldry is an exceptionally important field of work to me. After Lithuanian Independence I was invited to contribute with the restoration and creation of national symbolic attributes. A lot of work has been done working side by side with the Lithuanian Heraldry. Afterwards I started participating in commemorative coin design contests organized by the Bank of Lithuania. I have always had a keen interest in themes concerning Lithuanian history and statehood.
N.: What is (are) your main inspiration source(s)?
R.R.: I couldn’t name one source of inspiration. Although I would say that understanding: the importance of historical background, people surrounding me, faith in tomorrow and the value of sincere work greatly contributes to my creative activities. While working I also get inspired by cultural heritage of western European civilizations a lot. So not only Lithuanian history but as well Europe history deeply interests me.
N.: How did you become more specifically coin designer for national lituanian mint?
R.R: I was encouraged to participate in the contests by the chairman of that time Lithuanian Heraldry Commission – Historian Edmundas Rimša and same commission member – Numismatist Vytautas Aleksejūnas. They as well were experts of the panel for coin design contests held by Lithuanian Bank. Later on, alongside with sculptor Vytautas Narutis, I participated in my first coin design contests. Although I should say first attempts didn‘t bring any luck.
N.: What are the different projects of coins or medals you designed for the lituanian mint, until today?
R.R: Here are the different projects I worked on:
100 Litas Coin dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the issuance of the first map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Designed by Rolandas Rimkūnas, Eglė Rimkūnienė. Coin form by Giedrius Paulauskis.
50 LITAS COIN DEDICATED TO THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF VYTAUTAS MAGNUS UNIVERSITY. Author of graphic design — Rolandas Rimkūnas Author of plaster model — Giedrius Paulauskis
50 Litas silver Coin dedicated to the 500-year anniversary of the Battle of Orsha. Designed by Rolandas Rimkūnas. Coin form by Giedrius Paulauskis.
20 euro coin dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Algirdas Julien Greimas. Designed by Rolandas Rimkūnas. Coin form by Giedrius Paulauskis.
20 euro coin dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Francysk Skaryna’s Ruthenian Bible. Designed by Rolandas Rimkūnas.
All of the contests were organised by Lithuanian Bank
N.: How did you get involved in the 2017 €20 euro ruthenian bible commemorative coin? What guided you for the choice of illustrated subjects? What is the historical background? How important is the ruthenian bible in lituanian history?
R.R: As I mentioned I am interested in history of Lithuania that is what pushed me to participate in this contest. Francysk Skaryna was a Ruthenian born citizen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He was a doctor, humanitarian, publisher and a public figure. Francysk Skaryna acquired his bachelor degree in free arts in the University of Krakow and in the university of Pardua (Italy) he got his Medicine Doctor degree. In 1517 Francysk Skaryna founded a printing house in Prague and published the Ruthenian Bible. In 1522 he opened the first printing house in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and published the first printed book in the GDL- „The Little Travel Book“. Even though Skarynas’s bible was published in olden ruthenian language, the wood engravings were stylistically European Catholic. The texts in the Bible which were printed using cyrilic script had obvious latin font stylistic features. The whole visualization of the book is seeping with various ligvistic and cultural cohabitations. This was an exeptional feature of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania at that time.
A title page of the Ruthenian Bible was chosen for the graphical solution of the coin’s design, page’s top part was put on the obverse of the coin. Lithuanian state Coat of Arms was eched on the obverse using 16th century traditional style. The bottom part of the bible’s page, along with the emblem of Skaryna consisting of the moon and the sun was placed on the reverse of the coin. The prints that accompany coin’s illustrations are original, painted using 16th century font styles.
N.: What represents for you euro coinage and more specifically lituanian euro coinages. Do you think it is in straight line of lituanian numismatics from the origins (design, topics choice or engraving style)?
R.R: As I believe the introduction of Euro to Lithuania and commemorative coin minting were very important steps. It‘s great that Lithuania returned to the European community. We became safer, more worldly and richer in culture. Personally I always check the national obverses of euros in circulation. I feel interested from where they came and what symbolism each European Union country uses to introduce itself. So many different countries and yet we are united by one reverse, it is meaningful.
N.: Do you know if numismatics is very popular in Lituania? Does a national numismats club exist? To you, how many people do collect coins, medals or currencies (banknotes) in Lituania?
R.R: As far as I know there is a Numismatist Club in Lithuania, though I do not keep contact with club members. Therefore I can not comment much.
N.: Do the national medias communicate about launch of new coins and medals for lituanian public in general?
R.R: Yes. Lithuanian Bank together with Lithuanian Media widely informs about the release of new commemorative coins and events regarding them.
N.: How do you see the future of numismatics in Lituania?
R.R: I work in Vilnius Academy of Arts myself. There are a lot of great, talented and interesting young people, who are curious about graphics and symbolics. I do believe the future of Numismatics belongs to them and it will be great.
Some artworks of ROLANDAS RIMKUNAS
Animation des images classiques
Also is a part of the universe
Source: NUMISMAG ©. Photos :Lithuanian Bank, author: BFL, Rolandas RIMKUNAS