The divergent path of a trophy designer

By Jean-Philippe Caron | 2017-07-03

I created the trophies that were awarded ten days ago at the gala for Les Grands Prix de la Relève d’Affaires of the Regroupement des Jeunes Chambres de Commerce du Québec (RJCCQ). The event that took place in front of 500 business leaders was a immense success. Karima Brikh, our host for the evening, asked me how I became a trophy designer and how I came to incept a company dedicated exclusively into creating trophies. After some explanation, she described my entrepreneurial journey as “original, if not unique”.

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A diploma in trophy design doesn’t exist! In fact, I have never met a person who shares the same job as me! Resellers of trophies made in China do exist by the tons, but a trophy designer who dedicates his entire career in the art of creating exclusive recognition items, that’s extremely rare.

For nearly twenty years, I was an art commissioner. Working daily with dozens of renowned painters and sculptors has had an undeniable impact in the development of my career as a creator. I must confess however, that it has been a long process before I allowed myself to bear the title of “artist.” For several years, I was rejecting the idea of being simultaneously an entrepreneur and an artist. After more than two decades of diffusing with great success the works of artists I represented, putting my own creations in the spotlight seemed unlikely to me. I can say now that the sentiment of “impostor” has long inhabited me.

One of my great artistic influences is the work of the world-renowned Spanish sculptor, Kieff Antonio Grediaga, of whom I was the assistant at age 16. Besides, one of his sculptures is proudly displayed in my office today. Kieff taught me the importance of analyzing the shapes, the spaces and the volumes occupied by matter, but above all the amplitude of the magnificent voids that this same matter can generate. Assisting Kieff in his Beloeil foundry, manipulating molten bronze, unmolding his sculptures and spending tens of hours polishing them will have shaped my imagination as a future creator. Precision and Perfection in the creating process shaped my passage in his studio. A few years later, in 1996, I launched Artifex, a company specialized in selling works of art. The very first project I carried out as a commissioner was the financing of a monumental sculpture created by Kieff, which I proudly offered to the city that saw me grow up: St-Bruno-de-Montarville. This 16-foot high work, weighing more than two tons of solid bronze, is titled TOTEM ’87 with Triangle and Spiral, and has been exhibited in front of City Hall for more than 20 years.


The work “TOTEM ’85 with triangle and spiral” created by the sculptor Kieff Antonio Grediaga, which I had the pleasure of inaugurating on October 27, 1996.

My father is an engineer, he’s a pretty curious guy and quite the handyman. In his workshop at home, there is always a bunch of disassembled stuff. When I was young, I was fascinated by these objects under repair. Seeing how things are fabricated opened my mind and allowed me to see opportunities where there wasn’t any. Following my father’s footsteps, my time at École Polytechnique de Montréal in the early 1990s gave me some technical and methodological tools that I apply daily in the company I run today : Protocole – Trophies of Exception.

The design of the “water drop” medals for the 11th FINA-Montreal World Championships 2005 opened my eyes to my hidden talent. My very first ever creation was described by some sports journalists as “the most beautiful medal in the history of sport”. This medal is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Switzerland. That’s a great way to start a career!

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Jean-Philippe Caron, President and Chief Creating Officer
Protocole – Trophies of Exception


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