Guest Stamp Designer Riley Cran

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This morning I am really excited to introduce guest designers to Stamp Drawer! As an illustrator, I keep up (quite obsessively) with the work of other artists and designers, and I’m always extra excited when I see stamp-inspired pieces popping up. Today we have three wonderful designs by Riley Cran, a graphic designer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Riley created these stamps as a gift for a dear friend’s birthday:

"My friend once told me how she always wanted to be a mermaid. Her childhood fantasy led her to find a passion for synchronized swimming. For her 23rd birthday, I made a small series of nautical illustrations just for her."

Riley has worked on some outstanding projects, including this illustrative map of Madrid for Herb Lester Associates. Stamp design is a dream project for him (as he mentions in his portfolio’s “bucket list”); I think these designs demonstrate that he’s up to the challenge of creating tiny bits of post-able awesomeness.

Thanks for joining Stamp Drawer, Riley, as our first guest designer!   

Liechtenstein, Fairy Tale Stamps, 1969

Today in the stamp drawer is a wonderful set of stamps from Liechtenstein. Issued in 1969, these stamps depict three classic fairy tales and were designed by Louis Jaeger. I really love the dynamic gestures of the characters in these designs. Jaeger is responsible for a slew of handsome stamp designs issued over the decades, the most recent being this issue from 2012

US, Humane Treatment of Animals Stamps, 1966

imageToday I am sharing a stamp that I like both for its design and its message. I love animals and I appreciate that countries sometimes issue stamps that validate this simple but sometimes neglected value—that of kindness to animals. 

Several months ago, while walking my own dog Russell, I saw a man dragging a little poodle, who was clearly injured, across the street. The man was exasperated and the dog—tethered by a leash—could not keep up with his fury; he was limping and falling, falling and limping, scrambling to get back on his feet. This continued down the street as far as I could see. This image haunts me and I regret not running after them. I don’t know what I could have done… perhaps, at a minimum, by stopping them, the dog could have had a moment’s respite.  

This stamp reminds me of that moment and that little dog. And of course, of the countess other animals who endure far worse treatment at the hands of their people. It reminds me that I am not the only person appalled by that kind of treatment. Even in 1966, when this stamp was issued, Americans valued their animal companions and efforts to ensure their welfare. Nearly fifty years later, the message is still relevant and this stamp’s charming design is a legacy to that.

Bulgaria, Historic Sailing Ships Stamps, 1986

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I am in love with these stamps. They are some of the first stamps I collected and in pretty crummy condition (I’m now a bit pickier about the condition of stamps I collect). They’re also part of a six stamp set which I have yet to complete. Though these were issued in 1986 they share some stylistic similarities with these Bulgarian stamps issued two decades earlier—a folky design aesthetic and a minimal but vivid palette that I’ve come to love in stamps from Eastern Europe in general.  

Czechoslovakia, Prague Music Festival Stamp, 1967

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This afternoon I’d like to share a stamp that I love for its quirky lettering treatment. Issued by Czechoslovakia in 1967 to commemorate the Prague Music Festival, this stamp, appropriately, has a really melodic feel. I love the design’s flourishes and uneven letter heights and baselines. The decorative floral treatment dividing “Československo” and “Pražské” takes on a shape reminiscent of a musical instrument. A really charming addition to the stamp drawer collection, I think!    

Bulgaria, Folk Stamps, 1966

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This afternoon in the stamp drawer we have a charming set of six Bulgarian stamps issued in 1966. 

I’ve had difficulty finding information about these stamps; their designer, unfortunately, seems to be unknown. The series commemorates the season of spring in a distinctly Eastern European mid-century folk style. Definitely some of my collection favorites. 

I welcome any additional information about this set or its designer in the comments section below. 

Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid Stamp by Erica Sirotich

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I thought it would be nice to create a series of stamps that feature places I’ve been and loved. Copenhagen, Denmark was one of the first places to pop to mind when I began to sketch out ideas. Even though I only spent a couple days there during a Scandinavia tour last summer, the city made such an impression on me. It’s a visually-rich place: the architecture, the bicycles, the waterways, the gardens, the design-minded folks everywhere and, of course, the little mermaid. This stamp features that famous Mermaid of Copenhagen, which we saw during a canal tour. 

So this morning in the stamp drawer is my second attempt at an original stamp design, which turned out to be a bit trickier than the first. I tried to keep it simple but, using more line than shape to define the scene (my usual illustration style is super line-based but my first stamp design was more shape-oriented), the design’s scalability to actual stamp size is not the best. But this is a process of learning and experimentation and fun and I’m happy with the result nonetheless. Looking forward to making more!     

Farm Animal Stamps by Christopher Wormell

I am really excited to share these stamps because they JUST arrived in the mail yesterday and I’ve been wishing for them for quite some time! This morning we have a lovely batch of stamps issued in Great Britain in 2005. They were illustrated by British artist Christopher Wormell and printed using a four color gravure process by Joh Enschede Security Printers, a specialty printer that produces stamps for over sixty countries. 

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Wormell is a linocut artist and wood engraver (these stamp designs were created with linocut); I love how his style looks at once classic and modern.

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I was excited to discover that Wormell’s the author & illustrator of a series of children’s books that I adore (I thought this style looked familiar!). There’s a great interview with him over at Seven Impossible Things (a wonderful children’s book illustration blog by Julie Danielson) where he discusses the other media in which he works (watercolor, pen & ink, colored pencil), his process for developing a picture book and his road to becoming a professional illustrator. There he shared this beautiful wood engraving of a hedgehog, among other pieces. Look at those textures!   

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I was surprised and delighted when I learned that Wormell is a self-taught artist (so am I!) who has, nevertheless, succeeded in commercial and book illustration in general. He has won several prestigious awards for his illustration work. He broke onto the scene in 1990 when he won the Ragazza prize at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair; in 2004 he was awarded the New York Times Book Review’s Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award for his book Teeth, Tails and Tentacles.      

If you’re really enamored with his work you can purchase limited edition lino- and wood-cut prints by Wormell here, including these charming bear and elephant prints from his book An Alphabet of Animals (which appears to be out of print), and a handsome stegosaurus from Wings, Horns & Claws.

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Just a couple of covers from Chris Wormell’s many charming children’s books, Mice, Moral’s & Monkey Business and Through the Animals’ Eyes, areshown below.  

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For my philatelist friends: you can find more detailed information about these lovely stamps, including a catalog of the special postmarks created by various British counties for their day of issue, at Norvic Philatelic. Their Scott# is 2260a. 

Year of the Snake Stamp by Erica Sirotich

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Howdy my philatelic friends! This morning in the stamp drawer is my very first stamp design, commemorating the upcoming Chinese New Year! I’m looking forward to entering the Year of the Snake—mainly because I’ll get to go enjoy San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade (which is always awesome) and, well, because I really like drawing snakes! I have a mighty good excuse to draw even more snakes than usual this year!

For this design I tried to play with a limited palette; simple, hand drawn shapes; a no frills typeface (Futura) and a nice, papery texture overlay to give the design an authentic, stamp-ish feel. I quite like how it came out! 

See the design a bit larger here. Thanks for visiting and do stay tuned for more stamps and original stamp designs!   

Germany, Folk Tale Stamps, 1973

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This Friday morning in the Stamp Drawer we have a set of six stamps issued by the German Democratic Republic in 1973. This is one of several sets Germany commissioned during this period depicting fairy & folk tale narratives—in this case a Russian tale called “At the Pike’s Behest.” I really love the movement in these illustrations—each stamp is really quite dynamic in spite of its simplicity. I also like the fluid lettering at the bottom of each one.

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As with many vintage stamps in my collection, I’ve had a difficult time tracking down these ones’ designer, but believe they may have been created by someone named Bläser. Other stamps believed to be designed by Bläser can be found on the wiki site Catawiki

I welcome comments with any further info about this fun series and/or its artist! For the super collectors in the audience, this stamp series’s Scott Catalog # is GDR 1504-09 :)