United States Mint Call for Artists: Seeking Artists for a Competition to Design the Obverse of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins

Applications Open: March 19, 2019
Application Deadline: April 15, 2019
Artists Notified if Selected to Submit a Design: May 2019
Design Submission Must Be Received By: June 2019
Winner Announced: by the end of 2019

Official Rules

By submitting an entry in this competition, artists agree to be bound and abide by all of these Official Rules.

I. About the Competition

Public Law 115-343 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue domed $5 gold coins, domed $1 silver coins, and domed half-dollar clad coins, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Dedicated to the creator of the game, Dr. James Naismith, and located in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the game was first played, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is recognized on a global scale as the institution that records and shares the history of basketball, including its greatest players, coaches and contributors.

In accordance with the public law, the gold, clad, and silver coins will all share the same obverse (front) and reverse (back) designs. The design for the common obverse of these commemorative coins will be selected by the Secretary based on the winning design from a public design competition. The obverse design is required to be emblematic of the game of basketball. As for the common reverse design, the legislation requires that it shall depict a basketball. The reverse design will be developed by the United States Mint and is not part of this competition.

The competition will proceed in two phases. In Phase One, artists will submit a digital portfolio, consisting of three to five examples of their existing work. An expert panel will review these portfolios. From the pool of applicants, up to 25 artists will be selected to participate in Phase Two to submit one obverse design for the proposed coins (for which artists will be paid a fee of $1,000). In Phase Two the designs will be reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) at their public committee meetings. After considering recommendations from the CCAC and the CFA, the Secretary of the Treasury will select one artist’s design to serve as the basis for the obverse of the coins. The same design will be used on the gold, silver, and clad coins.

The winning artist will be paid $5,000 for his or her design. The winning artist will be named as designer in historical documents, the Certificates of Authenticity, and promotional materials, and the artist’s initials will appear on the final coins (along with the initials of the United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver who will sculpt the selected design).

Artists are expected to distill the program’s design theme to its essence, representing a complicated subject on a very small palette. The United States Mint is seeking artists who can bring innovative perspectives and who can effectively utilize symbolism to create original artwork that is emblematic of the game of basketball.

In creating a coin design that will be translated into bas-relief sculpture, artists must take into consideration the ideas of relief, depth, and negative space. Although the design will begin as an illustration, artists must think three-dimensionally and consider that domed coins in three sizes will bear the design. The obverse of the coin will be concave, and the reverse of the coin will be convex.

II. Eligibility: Who May Enter the Competition

To qualify for this competition artists must be:

  • a citizen of the United States or lawful permanent resident
  • 18 years of age or older

Employees of the United States Mint, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, members of the expert panel, and the families of these groups are not eligible for this competition.

III. Disqualification

The United States Mint reserves the right to disqualify, at any time, artists and their entries, if—

  1. the entrant engages or has been found to have engaged in criminal, infamous, dishonest or notoriously disgraceful conduct, or any other conduct prejudicial to the United States Government;
  2. the entry or entrant violates or does not fully comply with these Official Rules, including the Phase One and Phase Two Requirements and Phase Two Terms and Conditions outlined below;
  3. the United States Mint determines that submitted material is not original and/or infringes the rights of a third party; or
  4. the entrant is determined to be ineligible by the United States Mint in its sole discretion.

Disqualification could, among other things, result in cancellation of, and/or the requirement that the entrant reimburse the United States Mint for, any payment to which such an entrant might otherwise have been or might become entitled.

IV. Phase One: Submit Portfolio Samples

To enter this competition, artists must submit an application via www.usmint.gov/news/design-competitions/basketball containing the required materials discussed below and on the application form. All interested artists must submit an application and upload three to five separate and distinct representative work samples by April 15, 2019.


1. General Contact Information

Artist must include contact information, including name, address, telephone number, and email address.

2. Samples of Work

Artists must submit three to five separate and distinct samples of artist’s original work submitted on electronic media (no physical artwork will be accepted). Please redact name and any other personally identifying information from the image and the filename. At your option, artists may label each work submission with title of the work, materials, and dimensions. You may also label each submission with an arrow or the word “top” indicating orientation of the image.

Samples will not be returned. The United States Mint is not responsible for damage or loss of submitted materials, whether or not such damage or loss is caused by negligence on the part of the United States Mint or its employees or agents.

Artists are encouraged to submit works that highlight their talents and suitability to advance to Phase Two. Therefore, artists are advised to consider what is required of this project, including the evaluation criteria (below), when selecting work samples.

All submissions must be the artist’s original work.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Overall quality and creativity of submitted portfolio
  • Ability to render figures, portraits and/or animals
  • Demonstration of the use of perspective
  • Demonstration of good design sense

V. Phase Two: Submit Obverse Design

Following a review of Phase One applications by the expert panel, up to 25 artists will be selected to participate in Phase Two by completing and submitting electronic designs for the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin obverse.

Invited artists will be paid a fee of $1,000 for this work and will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 (and have their initials appear on the coins) if the artist’s design is ultimately selected by the Secretary. All Phase Two designs must be accompanied by a completed and signed Rights Transfer Agreement that will be provided by the United States Mint with the invitation.


1. Coin Specifications

The $5 gold coin has a diameter of 0.85 inches (21.6 millimeters). The $1 silver coin has a diameter of 1.5 inches (38.1 millimeters). The half-dollar clad coin has a diameter of 1.205 inches (30.6 millimeters). All three coins will be domed, in a fashion similar to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coins and the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coins. The obverse design, the subject of this competition, will be concave. Please consider the size and curvature of the coins when developing an obverse design.

2. Design Requirements

Obverse design submissions must—

  • be emblematic of the game of basketball;
    not include the name or depiction of any living person even with permission.
  • not include names, emblems, logos, trademarks or other intellectual property associated with any specific government, commercial, or private organization;
  • be the artist’s own original artwork;
  • not include the artist’s name, initials, logo, mark, or other identifier anywhere in or on the design;
  • not be frivolous or inappropriate.

Artists may be responsible at any time for any necessary modifications to a submitted design as requested by the United States Mint. Changes may be requested for any reason, including historical/technical accuracy, appropriateness, or coinability.

3. Required Inscriptions on Obverse Design

  • 2020

Artists may choose to include additional inscriptions beyond the required inscriptions.

Artists should consider the following when designing for the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin obverse.

  • Emblematic of the game of basketball
  • Complimentary to the reverse design, which will be a representation of a basketball
  • Overall quality and creativity in interpreting the subject matter for a coin
  • Appropriate use of symbolism
  • Clarity of idea and communication
  • Appropriate level of detail for the scale and material of coins
  • Good design sense, composition, and balance of space
  • Effective incorporation of required text

Design Evaluation

Designs will be reviewed by Subject Matter Experts at the Naismit Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and two federal design review committees, the CFA and the CCAC, who will provide recommendations for a winning design to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Design Submission Requirements

During Phase Two, artists must submit a design digitally. Physical models are not required for this competition, and will not be accepted by the United States Mint nor evaluated by the CFA and the CCAC.

1. Digital Design Submission:

  1. Design must be submitted digitally on a white background
  2. Submit file as GIF, JPG, or JPEG
  3. Submit high resolution file (300 ppi at 8 in. diameter)
  4. Shading: Artists may use any type of shading technique to convey the dimension of elements to include form, relief and structure as a “map for sculpt.” As techniques such as 2D shading cannot be executed in 3D sculpt, do not use techniques in your digital design submission that incorporate multiple levels of value traditionally used in illustration to convey color, photorealism, and other visual enhancements.
  5. Borders: Major elements with substantial detail and volume should not be placed near the edge of the design. Too much relief and detail near the border of the coin increases striking tonnage and creates fill issues. Minor design elements (such as lettering, stars, or laurel branches) are acceptable near the border.
  6. Fonts:
    1. Fonts must be shown in outline form to denote raised font. Fonts in black will be interpreted as incused (recessed) lettering.
    2. Fonts must be a product of Photoshop, Illustrator, or Corel Draw. The name of the font must be identified with the design submission along with the software program.
    3. Do not use fonts that create bridging issues in the minting process.
  7. Incused Elements: Incused design elements (including inscriptions), where applicable, must be applied only to a raised element off the field such as a stand-alone element.

Phase Two Terms and Conditions

1. Originality, Reference Materials, and Third Party Rights

  • The design must be the artist’s original artwork.
  • The United States Mint discourages designs incorporating or derived from pre-existing works such as photographs, unless they are the artist’s own works. Although not encouraged, ancillary features in the designs may incorporate or be derived from pre-existing works, but only if such pre-existing works are in the public domain.
  • If any element of a design, including images and text, affects or is subject to any rights of any third party, including intellectual property rights, the artist must obtain the party’s written permission to include his or her property in the design for use in this project, and to grant the rights requested in the Rights Transfer Agreement.
  • The United States Mint will not review or supply third-party releases.
  • With each design, artists will be required to warrant that the design is original and not in violation of any other party’s rights, and that the artist has obtained all rights necessary to assign all rights in the design to the United States Mint without restriction.
  • The United States Mint cautions that because of license restrictions, reference materials obtained from stock houses or similar resources that purport to be copyright-free or royalty-free may not be available for unrestricted use or reuse.
  • Notwithstanding any other provision of these Terms and Conditions, reference material provided by the United States Mint (if any) may not be copied into artwork or otherwise. Preexisting materials (whether or not provided by the United States Mint) may be used only for reference (for example, to inform the artist of a subject’s physical characteristics, and to support historically/technically accurate clothing and environment), and must be provided in full with the design submission.
  • Along with each submission, artists must provide true and accurate copies of all references, sources and other supporting matter used in creating an original design.

2. Rights Transfer Agreement

Designs must be assigned to the United States Mint and will become its sole and exclusive property. Designs must be accompanied by a completed and signed Rights Transfer Agreement that will be provided to artists by the United States Mint with the Phase Two invitation.

With the Rights Transfer Agreement, artists will be required to:

  • Relinquish and transfer to the United States Mint in perpetuity all rights in designs submitted to the United States Mint, and in drafts, even if the design or draft was prepared before entering this competition or is not ultimately used by the United States Mint. This means that the artist will not retain any rights in the design or drafts, and will not be able to use or allow others to use them (or designs substantially similar to them) without specific written permission from the United States Mint in its sole discretion. For example, without permission, an artist may not be able to display these designs or drafts on a web site, or license them for use by any third party. An artist also may not be able to use or license an unused version or draft, even if it existed before the artist entered the competition.
  • Ensure that designs are entirely original. (Designs and revisions must not be copied in whole or in part from other works, and outside materials are for reference use only.) If an artist’s design affects third party rights (such as an individual’s name or likeness), the artist must (without assistance, payment or prompting from the United States Mint) have obtained all consents necessary to ensure that the United States Mint, without further action, will own all rights in the design and its drafts at the point the Rights Transfer Agreement is executed. Necessary consents must allow the United States Mint to use and allow others (such as licensees) to use or modify designs in any manner in all media and markets worldwide for commercial or other purposes in perpetuity without further restriction, approvals, permissions or compensation.
  • Waive and agree not to enforce any “moral rights,” such as rights of attribution and integrity in specific designs and drafts, and waive any right to inspect or approve any finished product and any advertising, marketing, promotional material or merchandising products and materials.
  • Make warranties, such as those concerning design ownership originality, third-party rights clearances, and the artist’s power and authority to sign agreements.
  • Indemnify the United States government against any claims for breach of warranties or for infringement of copyright or other third party rights.
  • Release and hold harmless the United States Mint, the United States government, and their agents and assigns, from claims and/or liability.

3. General

The United States Mint is not responsible for any damage to, or loss of, work samples or designs submitted in connection with the Competition, whether or not such damage or loss is caused by negligence on the part of the United States Mint or its employees or agents.

All materials, statements and information submitted in connection with the Competition must be timely, complete, legible, signed where required, true, accurate, and not misleading.

By entering this Competition and in consideration of the opportunity to submit a Phase Two design and receive a fee, artists consent to the collection and use of their personal information (such as name, likeness, biographical material, and other identifying characteristics) for purposes such as identity verification, application processing, security vetting if performed, potential payment processing, and public posting of designs on the websites of the United States Mint, in the evaluation and selection process (including public advisory committee reviews), and with publicity and promotion of the Competition, final design and coins, and United States Mint programs generally.

VI. Questions

Please direct all inquiries to the United States Mint by email at Basketball@usmint.treas.gov.

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