So, it turns out 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the first Holiday stamp issued by the US Postal Service. A couple of years ago, I got a call to design a stamp depicting Santa Claus, the only brief I recieved was that the stamp had to show Santa and his reindeer and that the design was to be “se tenant,” a term that means one design that crosses over onto two or more stamps, (in this case four.)
Santa stamps from 1972, 1979 and 1994
The first thing I did was check out past stamps so I wouldn’t repeat a design from a previous year. Then I started thinking about how to depict this scene we’ve all seen so many times in a fresh way, I thought about Louis Armstrong’s recording of the poem “Night Before Christmas” and looked at some old children’s books I had as a kid. The illustrations from mid-century Golden Books seemed like a style I could deal with and one that had the right vibe for a stamp.
Mid-Century Golden Books
I sent two pencil sketches to USPS Art Director Howard Paine that showed the “se tenant” design with one stamp in color to give him a good idea of what I was thinking. Everyone responded to the design that showed all eight reindeer, no Rudolph, above a snowy village. Howard recommended that I move that last reindeer’s ass off the top right stamp. That’s the kind of veteran advice you get from a guy who has designed hundreds of stamps over the years.
When I started this design First-Class Stamps had not been changed over to Forever Stamps. Graphically, I miss the USA44.
An outline view in Adobe Illustrator
The USPS has issued 750,000,000 of these stamps, making it my largest print-run ever. The artwork has been adapted for a lot of additional uses. I worked with Ross Shapland at DraftFCB in Chicago on some POP displays for Post Offices around the country.
Pasadena Post Office
In Hollywood at The Johnny Grant Station.
For stamp enthusiasts
First time I've seen a Christmas ornament made from one of my illustrations.
You can't make this stuff up
The First Day of Issue Ceremony in NYC, I'm third from the left.