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Cherry Blossom Centennial Postage Stamp

MARCH 19, 2012

On Saturday March 24th, I’ll be in Washington DC for the First Day of Issue Ceremony for The Cherry Blossom Centennial postage stamp. In 1912 a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was given to DC by Tokyo, Japan, the trees have survived the test of time and serve as a reminder of international friendship, blooming every spring the trees are also a symbol of the fleeting nature of time, and the fragility of life.
The legendary art director, Phil Jordan asked me to work on this design, and the stamp really designed itself. The format is “se-tenant,” a design that runs an image over two stamps, and it seemed like the obvious solution was a panorama of the DC tidal basin ringed with trees in bloom. I did some research into past stamps and found a nice series from the 1960s called Beautification of America, and felt that a classic approach like that would be best. My job was to design a modern, clean addition to this tradition.
There’s no shortage of artwork that depicts the trees in full bloom. Each year there’s an official poster for the Cherry Blossom Festival, (this year it’s done by one of my earliest art heroes, Peter Max) and the challenge was to come up with a fresh image.
I have a warm spot in my heart for DC, because my daughter, Alex, did her under-grad at George Washington University, and is now in her second year at GW Law. It’ll be great to have her at the ceremony on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to meeting the philatelic enthusiasts who come out for these events.
1960s Beautification of America stamps

My thumbnail sketch, the idea for a banner at the bottom was dropped

A small colored pencil sketch

Full-size pencil drawing

Digital outline done in Illustrator

Detail for Sockwell

Pane of 20, the banner was brought back as a header for the sheet. The print run is only 100 million, so order your stamps soon

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