“The Mexico 1968 logotype, based on traditional forms from Mexican culture as well as being 60’s Op-art kinetic typography, set the tone for the entire graphics system.” —Lance WymanSome of Lance Wyman’s stamp designs for the 1968 Summer Olympic Games marked the first multicolored stamps issued by Mexico. The commemorative stamp sheet “Juegos De La XIX Olimpiada 1968” shows examples of combining multiple ink colors and the effect of overlapping lines to mimic the Olympic Rings in different visual ways. These multicoloured designs represent a “Dove and Olympic Rings,” “The Discus Thrower” and the “Palace of Sport, Mexico City.”
The below stamp sheet for the 1968 Olympics, shows some of Wyman’s more recognizable designs including the “Emblems of Games” and a line pattern based on the Mexico68 logotype integrated with rings.
“...The Mexico68 logotype that I designed was instrumental in winning the competition. The resulting design program, a multidimensional integration of logos, typography and color, developed to communicate to a multilingual audience, was cited by Philip Meggs in the book "A History of Graphic Design" as "...one of the most successful in the evolution of visual identification..." The lessons from this program have been a constant guide to my work...” —Lance WymanStarting in 1967 through 1968, Mexico released numerous horizontal stamps designed by Wyman to honor the wide range of sporting events for the 1968 Olympic Games. Here are some examples from my collection.
From two color stamps depicting Olympic sports with silhouette figures in movement, to more symbolic and slightly psychedelic, cluttered designs with intersecting circular rings, Wyman’s visual approaches are playfully varied within one system.
In 1908, the British Post Office did not issue any commemorative postage stamps for the IV Olympiad. This was due to The Post Office’s stance of avoiding pictorial, commemorative stamps. It wasn’t until the 1920s that Great Britain began to cautiously break away from their classical, aesthetic roots. Gradually, artists and designers were given a little more creative freedom within the shape of a rectangular or square postage stamp.
When London was given the honor to host the Olympics again in 1948, Games of the XIV Olympiad, Great Britain took on the challenge to design symbolic stamps to mark the occasion.
“The Post Office could hardly refuse to issue stamps for the 1948 Olympic Games, as the precedent had been established by host nations in previous years. At first, just two stamps were envisaged, 2½d and 3d, later extended to include the 6d and 1/-. An air letter using the design of the 6d stamp was also planned.Numerous artists submitted designs for consideration. Only four designs were granted final approval. The Olympic Games stamp set (including four denominations) was issued on July 29th, 1948. All four designs include the profile and crown of King George VI and slight variations on the Olympic rings.
Consulting with the Council of Industrial Design, several artists, and the four main stamp printers, were approached. From the designs submitted the Council chose work by G. Knipe of Harrison & Sons, S. D. Scott of Waterlows, Edmund Dulac, Percy Metcalfe and Abram Games. Before these were shown to the King, the Postmaster General felt another option should be offered, and recommended a design by John Armstrong...”
—The British Postal Museum & Archive
The blue stamp above (2½d), representing the “Globe and Laurel Wreath,” was designed by sculptor Percy Metcalfe. This stamp, first in the set, had the largest circulation size.
postage stamp (3d) symbolizing “Speed,” designed by Abram Games
postage stamp (6d) featuring “Olympic Symbol,” designed by Stanley D. Scott
postage stamp (1/-) with “Winged Victory” designed by Edmund Dulac
On July 30th, 1948, The Manchester Guardian shared thoughts on the Olympic Games postage stamps and the artists behind the designs. (view text larger via Guardian UK)
Below are the top contenders amongst submitted designs that almost made the cut, but were never released as official postage stamps.
“Copyright doubts were expressed over Knipe’s design, as it showed two athletes taken from a photograph: it was therefore withdrawn.” —The British Postal Museum & Archive
In a “perfect recollection,” more than 60 years later, some of the unofficial designs ended up in print as part of a new souvenir pack including a “nonpostally valid facsimile sheet of four 1948 Olympic Games Stamps.”
The lengthy history involving the design of vintage British stamps is complex. Often dictated by strict rules, requiring thorough review by committee and Royal approval, the process of designing and selecting official postage stamps is handled with pride and careful consideration.
To coincide with the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the I.O.C. and the British Library opened the exhibition “Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games” on July 25th, 2012. The “visually striking exhibition telling the fascinating story of the past and present of the Olympic Games through the medium of postage stamps and related memorabilia” will be on view through September 9th, 2012.
(scans of commemorative postage stamps for the Olympic Games 1948 from my personal collection)
The symbolic, illustrative, large numeral “1” caught my eye for this set of Cuban stamps commemorating Labor Day (c. 1964, designer unknown)
I notice when overlaying the different patterns, the symmetry connecting the series is accentuated.
Stefan Kanchev's graphics for this series remind me a little of Alexander Girard's "Tree of Life" and his work for the restaurant La Fonda del Sol.
“According to Chinese lunar calendar, 2011 is Xin-Mao Year, or the Year of the Rabbit. In real life, rabbit is a favorite of people because its tamed, lively, and lovely nature. In traditional Chinese culture, while the three-legged crow represents the sun, rabbit is synonymous with the moon...” —China National Philatelic Corporation, back of F.D.C. envelope
China’s 2011 Xin-Mao / Year of the Rabbit stamp was designed by Wu Guanying. The piece of artwork used on the F.D.C envelope is by Wang Jiancheng.
Meng Jie designed the cancellation mark.
While numerous contries opted for youthful, cute bunny stamp designs, I think the designs issued by Canada stand out for its sophistication and special printing effects. The final stamp designs were a highly collaborative effort between illustrator Tracy Walker and Canadian stamp designer Paul Haslip with HM & E Design. The illustrations on the international variation above was inspired by tradional Chinese embroidery.
The Year of the Rabbit stamp designs from Japan this year are reminiscent of the 1963 Year of the Rabbit stamp.
South Korea also put a cute white bunny on their 2011 Year of the Rabbit stamp.
Below is Taiwan’s more painterly approach with good use of the color yellow.
The U.S.A. opted for kumquats as the focal point of their Lunar New Year 2011 stamp design issue.
An excerpt from the back of the souvenir stamp sheet above reads:
“Kumquats, such as those depicted in stamp art, are given as gifts and eaten for luck at this time of renewed hope for the future. The stamp design incorporates elements from the previous series of Lunar New Year stamps, including an intricate paper-cut design of a rabbit and the Chinese character—drawn in grass-style calligraphy—for “Rabbit.”” —United States Postal Service
American graphic designer Lance Wyman designed the logotype and wayfinding graphics for the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. Following the untimely death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th, 1968, Lance Wyman was called on to portray the image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the first commemorative postage stamp issued by Mexico. Other sources indicate that Ras A Khaima (United Arab Emirates) was the first in the world to issue a postage stamp to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A sad note back home during this period was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had the honor of designing the first commemorative stamp in the world issued by Mexico.”
It struck me as a little unusual that the USPS did not issue the first stamp, meanwhile numerous international countries issued their own designs. In early 1979, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Stamp was issued in the United States. With the exception of presidents, there is a ten year rule that restricts memorial stamps from being made. So, while the rest of the world rushed to honor MLK in postage stamp form, the U.S. held to their postal regulations for stamp designs, which in turn caused a delay in the production of the U.S. commemorative stamp.
(view images larger via flickr)
The Gallery at Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) held the exhibition “You Are Here: Works by the legendary American graphic designer Lance Wyman” from May 1st through June 9th, 2012. I'm disappointed I didn’t see the exhibit, but hope it will eventually travel to many cities. The BBC has a slideshow highlighting designs from the show, with a focus on Lance Wyman’s Mexico 1968 Olympic designs.
Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (c. 2009)
Remy and Linguini from Ratatouille (c. 2007)
Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (c. 2006 / 2011)
Buzz Lightyear and two green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (c. 1995 / 1999 / 2010)
“The Send a Hello stamps, which go on sale Aug. 19, are a natural outgrowth of the Art of Disney stamp series issued between 2004 and 2008. Originally intended as a series of three annual issuances depicting friendship, celebration, and romance, the Art of Disney stamps proved so popular that the Postal Service expanded the series to include issuances in 2007 and 2008 to celebrate imagination and magic...” —USPS
I’m disappointed to see no representation from Monsters, Inc, Finding Nemo, or The Incredibles, but personally don’t mind the omission of A Bug’s Life. There will always be a difference of opinion for which Pixar film is the best, and I’m torn with no decisive favorite.
Was the fear of further decline for snail mail in future years the impetus for the USPS to greatly increase their Forever Stamp program? It is great to have far more options than the always in supply Liberty Bell stamp. A press release about the 2011 Stamp Program reads: “Since the first Forever Stamp, featuring the Liberty Bell, was issued in April 2007, 28 billion Forever Stamps have been sold, resulting in $12.1 billion in total revenue. Now that the Postal Service offers coils, booklets and Holiday Forever Stamps, almost 85 percent of its stamp program is Forever.”
The 12 industrial design ‘pioneers’ are: Frederick Hurten Rhead, Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Gilbert Rohde, Greta von Nessen, Russel Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Peter Müller-Munk, Dave Chapman, and Eliot Noyes. It is nice that they managed to fit in atleast one female designer in the group. Though only one woman out of twelve is a little disappointing, it is not at all surprising. In addition to the select group of twelve, Robert Heller’s “Airflow” fan designed in the 1930s is featured on the left-hand side of the souvenir sheet.
Ranging from Walter Dorwin Teague’s design for the 1934 “Baby Brownie” to Henry Dreyfuss’ desk telephone to a clock designed by Gilbert Rohde to Frederick Hurten Rhead’s 1936 Fiesta line of ceramic tableware, the selection of designs and designers is a carefully curated group filled with few obvious selections. I always enjoy when I'm prompted to research a designer that I should have known a little more about.
Thank you again to Art Director Derry Noyes for bringing modern design to the USPS. Among Derry Noyes’ contributions are the Charles + Ray Eames stamps from 2008 and the Masterworks of Modern Architecture stamp pane from 2005.
Below is an interesting excerpt from the USPS press release for the new ‘Pioneers of American Industrial Design’ stamps:
“...Industrial design is the study and creation of products whose appearance, function, and construction have been optimized for human use. It emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1920s but really took hold during the Depression. Faced with decreasing sales, manufacturers turned to industrial designers to give their products a modern look that would appeal to consumers. Characterized by horizontal lines and rounded, wind-resistant shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. They evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired...”I can’t help but wonder if Jessica Helfand’s position on the Postmaster General's Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee played a role in approval of this upcoming design-centric stamp set. Another reason I am interested the upcoming stamps is that the “pane’s verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.” Perhaps the best perk is that these stamps will be part of the Forever Stamp Program—I’ll want to stock up on these once they are available.
Updated June 30th, 2011:
Sheets of the “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” (Forever) stamps should now available to purchase at your local USPS Post Office. If standing in line at the post office is painful, the pane of 12 stamp designs can be ordered online at The Postal Store. This was my first time making a trip to the post office only to buy specific postage stamps (fortunately the line was very short). I bought enough stamps to hopefully cover my snail mail for the next couple of years. I'll make another trip solely to buy stamps in mid-August when the Pixar “Send a Hello” USPS (Forever) stamps are released.
To learn more about the individual designers selected as the 12 “Pioneers of American Industrial Design,” there is a pdf for additional reading. Also, the backside of the physical souvenir sheet of “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” postage stamps includes very brief descriptions of the designers and their one chosen icon of industrial design.
“...The designs ﬁnd inspiration in modern art styles, such as action painting and pop art. The motif rabbits are depicted using black silhouettes that are adorned with orange and purple paint splatters, which create lively compositions. The backgrounds, which are yellow with random red splatters, cleverly make use of traditional Chinese ink-wash effects. The bright colors symbolize joy and convey high expectations about the Year of the Rabbit...” —Chunghwa Post
I appreciate the thought put into the symbolism of the stamp designs. For example, the descriptive copy for the stamp with two kissing rabbits reads: “This pair of rabbits conveys the idea of “the treasuring of each other” and symbolizes a year of abundance.” The stamp with the little bunny looking up represents “achieving success in all one’s endeavors.”
The stamps are printed by the China Color Printing Co., Ltd. on phosphorescent stamp paper. the name of the designer was not indicated. They are graphically a little busy, but fun and festive.
(more info via The Chungwha Post)
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