When the Royal Australian Mint commissioned Adelaide-based artist Landeg to illustrate a series of commemorative coins for the Tokyo Olympics, nobody expected them to produce government-commissioned fursonas. Yet here we are, and furries are stoked.
Landeg was put onto the project by a friend. The Mint was looking to commission Aussie-themed cartoon characters similar to how the Tokyo Olympics had been using anime-style mascots. Landeg decided to submit their portfolio, which features heaps of 2D art of characters like Sailor Moon and, notably, no sexy anthropomorphic characters.
“I had no idea it was related to anthro art until I actually got in contact with them and started working out the details,” the artist told PEDESTRIAN.TV on Thursday.
“The brief was to basically make an ‘anime style reboot’ of the original Boxing Kangaroo mascot.”
So, the Olympics are soon, how is your country trying to drum up national pride?
Well here in Australia, supermarket chain Woolworths (Woolies) is having a collectable sticker series for kids to collect of our athletes with 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙚𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙡𝙮 𝙛𝙪𝙧𝙧𝙮 𝙢𝙖𝙨𝙘𝙤𝙩𝙨?! pic.twitter.com/JLWBdMbGYB
— Bluey (@bluedingo) July 9, 2021
Bro these woolies mascots go hard pic.twitter.com/cAdADQ29OJ
— 🍃 Button 🌸 (@ButtonPanduh) July 7, 2021
The job was initially supposed to just be promotional art for the coin booklet, including a comic for the inside cover.
“After they saw what I’d made, they wanted to create a second character, Surfing Kangaroo, to celebrate surfing becoming an Olympic event, and the scope of the project expanded,” Landeg said.
“Then the Paralympics wanted to get involved, too, with their mascot Lizzie, and things kind of snowballed from there.”
The mint ultimately ended up plastering Landeg’s so-called “government-commissioned fursonas” on some of the $2 coins themselves. This possibly makes Australia the first country to mint furry-themed currency.
You can cop the commemorative coins at Woolies, or at the Royal Australian Mint’s own website.
inbound furries you are welcome to follow me but you should know I’m typically not a furry artist and I do not talk about anthros or anything at all but I hope y’all like one piece!!!!!
— Landeg of Zandeg: Tears of The Kangdeg (@SailorFailures) July 14, 2021
It was only a matter of time before the the coin dropped for the furry community, who were quick to embrace these strapping anthromorphic athletes as one of their own.
This came as a bit of a surprise to Landeg, but not an unwelcome one. The artist already had experience tabling at artists’ alleys at anime conventions before, so its not as if the furry community was some kind of unknown entity.
“I just think they’re a funky and largely harmless bunch who hold a refreshing level of respect for artists’ work,” Landeg told P.TV.
On Twitter, they even had to tell their new influx of followers that they’re not usually a furry artist, so as not to get any furries’ hopes up for more art.
Now furries are even making their own fan art of the Aussie characters and, um, woof.
Couldn’t help myself from drawing one of those Woolies mascots lol pic.twitter.com/uThRnf5JTj
— logging on to ‘online’ (@pterro_art) July 12, 2021
— Touji 🔜 Aurawra 2023 (@Touji_17) July 15, 2021
To conclude, this whole debacle has been a but unexpected but by no means unwelcome.
While Landeg isn’t a fan of these specific Olympic Games in Tokyo – “I am no longer jazzed for the Olympics [my work is] attached to due to the global plague we’re all living through but what can you do,” they wrote on Twitter – the artwork for these commemorative coins is undeniably cool and now it’s got its own dedicated fanbase to boot.
The artist told P.TV: “I had a roommate who was a furry, and I sometimes wonder what he thinks of all this.”