2012 USPS Holiday Stamp
posted: November 29, 2012

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....

Final art...

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....

john cuneo November 29, 2012
What a fantastic project Paul, with all these sweet spinoffs and applications. Congratulations also on your latest children's book collaboration. Santa Claus and Wynton Marsalis- you work with the coolest people.
Joe Ciardiello November 29, 2012
How great Paul! Congratulations.
Owen Freeman November 29, 2012
Well done Rogers! Great to see the finish getting so much varied use and attention, it's really well deserved.
Marc November 29, 2012
Postage stamps are one of those dream projects, and you've done a beautiful job with this one, Paul. Great to see the sketch development and all the various incarnations. Nice Santa suit, too!
Kris Battles November 30, 2012
You've certainly earned Santa's Stamp of Approval. Merry Christmas!
Tim OBrien November 30, 2012
What a great project and I love the notion that letters to people we love are sealed with your Santa. Millions and millions.
Douglas Fraser November 30, 2012
Great to see all the applications, and love seeing the outline view. Congratulations!
Yuko November 30, 2012
This is fantastic!!! Another smash hit.
Julia Breckenreid December 2, 2012
What a great post - love seeing the process too! They turned out beautifully.
Victo Ngai December 2, 2012
Saw the huge banner when I went to the post office on 34th street the other day, it's fantastic! Congrats!
Noah Woods December 4, 2012
What a beaut, Paul...a knockout, the bee's knees!
Taylor Whitney December 7, 2012
That's awesome. I actually bought a pack of these stamps a couple weeks ago, and just now found this site after poking around the online art world. I'd love to have my illustrations reproduced to this scale. 626 564 8728