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.)
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.
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.
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.