March
14

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Last Updated: March 14, 2011

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TOPIC / Graphic Design

Bulgarian stamps for Spring

Bulgarian stamps for Spring
These beautiful, colorful postage stamps from Bulgaria were designed by the prolific graphic artist, Stefan Kanchev. The set of 6 stamps welcome the arrival springtime in 1971 with stylized birds, flowers, and rays of sunshine.
vintage postage stamp with birds designed by Stefan Kanchev
vintage Bulgarian postage stamp art for Spring 1971, green 2
vintage Bulgarian postage stamp art for Spring 1971, purple 3
retro Bulgarian postage stamp art for Spring 1971, blue 5
vintage Bulgarian postage stamp art for Spring 1971, sun 13
vintage Bulgarian postage stamp flowers for Spring 1971, green 20

I notice when overlaying the different patterns, the symmetry connecting the series is accentuated.
symmetry in Stefan Kanchev postage stamp pattern designs
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.
 

March
03

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Last Updated: March 04, 2011

Tags: easter, peeps

Topic: Food

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TOPIC / Food

Peeps Show

Peeps Show
The Food2 staff had some fun creating “masterpieces” to help promote their Peeps Show Challenge. As a past fan of The Washington Post’s annual Peeps Diorama contest, seeing the Peeps inspired creations from the Food2 office made me smile. My favorite so far is the Peeps Lo Mein.
peeps piñata
Peeps Piñata
Peeps Cakes
Peeps Cakes
Peeps Springtime in Brooklyn
Peeps Springtime in Brooklyn
 

February
07

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Last Updated: February 07, 2011

Topic: Fashion

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TOPIC / Fashion

Converse ♥ Marimekko video

Converse ♥ Marimekko video

Converse recently announced their collaboration with Finnish textile and fashion design brand, Marimekko. This promo video gives a little insight into the new partnership and the upcoming line of Converse shoes.
Marimekko fabric production shot converse fashion
“Shot in Helsinki, this short film tells the story of the collaboration between Converse and Finnish textile icon Marimekko. The cinematic portrait celebrates the timeless spirit that both brands are born out of and unveils the story behind the women's focused Converse x Marimekko Spring 2011 collection. The film's soundtrack features tracks by Finnish music artists Husky Rescue and Uusi Fantasia.” —Converse on YouTube 
Marimekko fabrics
Converse Marimekko fabric design Chuck Taylors All Star Marimekko Converse shoesFor those with a more colorful fashion sensibility than myself, some of the designs are available for order through the Converse website. Though it looks like more unique, iconic Marimekko patterns didn’t make the cut to grace a Converse shoe this time.

(first found out about the Converse x Marimekko collaboration via Cool Hunting)
 

February
07

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Last Updated: February 07, 2011

Tags: art, books, papercuts

Topic: Book Design

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TOPIC / Book Design

miniature artists' books

miniature artists' books
The miniature one-of-a-kind books created by Elsa Mora are so cute and lovely. The cuteness may also be heightened by the way she presents her creations in carefully placed still life shots or in well designed little boxes wrapped with ribbon.
miniature artists' books by Elsita, still life with cute elephants
Birdhouse for Things that Have Gone Away.
Birdhouse for Things that Have Gone Away.

Eleven Things to Do

Eleven Things to Do.

A forest for Two
A Forest for Two.

Many of the little books involve intricately cut paper. “Elsita” has an Etsy shop filled with more beautiful work.
 

February
03

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Last Updated: February 04, 2011

Topic: Illustration

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TOPIC / Illustration

Year of the Rabbit Stamps from Around the World

Year of the Rabbit Stamps from Around the World
There are too many countries issuing stamps with cute bunnies and symbolic artwork to count that honor the fourth animal in the cycle of the Chinese zodiac calendar. Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and others released their designs either in late 2010 or in the beginning of the new year. Here’s a look at some of the different 2011 Lunar New Year postage stamp designs from around the world I was able to track down.

China Lunar New Year of the Rabbit stamps four block souvenir

“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 F.D.C. Year of the Rabbit 2011 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.

detail of China Year of the Rabbit 2011 cancellation stamp
Meng Jie designed the cancellation mark.


Year of the Rabbit stamp by Canada Post horizontal strip

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.

Japan New Year painted rabbit stamps

The Year of the Rabbit stamp designs from Japan this year are reminiscent of the 1963 Year of the Rabbit stamp.

Japan Nippon Year of the Rabbit stamps

South Korea also put a cute white bunny on their 2011 Year of the Rabbit stamp.

Korea Zodiac rabbit stamps

Below is Taiwan’s more painterly approach with good use of the color yellow.

Republic of China (Taiwan) kissing rabbits stamp
Taiwan bunny greeting postage stamp

The U.S.A. opted for kumquats as the focal point of their Lunar New Year 2011 stamp design issue.

U.S.A "Celebrating Lunar New Year" 2011 Rabbit Kumquat forever stamps

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
 

February
03

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Last Updated: February 03, 2011

Topic: Sculpture

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TOPIC / Sculpture

typographic felt sculptures

typographic felt sculptures
It was impossible not to stop and take notice of the sculptural designs by Andrea Cavagnaro. The colorful work of the artist instantly reminded me of Jen Stark’s cut paper art, but furrier and more organic. The incorporation of Spanish words and phrases in a cursive lettering style is what makes Cavagnaro’s creations memorable to me. Andrea Cavagnaro is currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and recently focused on textile designs.
"El amor es invisible / Love is invisible"
Todo Amor es Poderoso / Every love is Powerful
"Tu cuerpo es el lenguaje / Your body is the language"
Tu cuerpo es el lenguaje / Your body is the language
"Inhalar-Exhalar / To inhale-To exhale"
Inhalar-Exhalar / To inhale-To exhale

(found via The Jealous Curator via Pattern Pulp)
 

January
18

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Last Updated: May 20, 2012

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TOPIC / Graphic Design

Wyman's postage stamp to honor MLK & '68 Olympics

Wyman's postage stamp to honor MLK & '68 Olympics
There’s one postcard in my collection that has an interesting connection between the front and the back. I like the symbolism of the birds on yellow, with the stamp incorporating a dove to honor the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the other side.

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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. postage stamp from Mexico, 1968
“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.”
Lance Wyman
Martin Luther King Jr. memorial stamp, Aereo Mexico, design by Lance Wyman
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.
 

January
06

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Last Updated: January 13, 2011

Topic: Video

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TOPIC / Video

Type Snobbery from the TDC

Type Snobbery from the TDC

I'm a type snob /TDCTypography aficionado Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich is proud to be a “type snob” and suggests that Matteo Bologna is a “type snot” in a promo video to encourage international submissions to the Type Directors Club competitions. The video was produced by Very Nice Industries.
type snob calligraphy name art call for entries
A departure from Mucca Design’s usual sophistication and elegance, Matteo Bologna explains the concept behind the calligraphic pictorial rainbow name art used for the ‘call for entries’ and the upcoming Typography 32 book design. 
We’re using something that most designers consider low typography in a context that celebrates high typography... —Matteo Bologna
The final deadline for submissions to competitions represented in the next TDC Annual and exhibition is January 13th, 2011. There are three distinct and prestigious competitions: TDC 57 (Communication Design), TDC2 (Typeface Design), and TDC Intro (Movie Title Design). Each discipline has a carefully selected panel of talented judges.

In addition to the broad range of disciplines covered for TDC 57, this year there is a new category added for Experimental/Unpublished work. TDC 57 is chaired by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich. The judges include Art Chantry, Arem Duplessis, Fons Hickmann, Mario Hugo, Jason Kernevich from Heads of State, Post Typography, and Angela Voulangas.

James Montalbano from Terminal Design is the chair for TDC2 2011. The judges for the Type Directors Club competition for masters of typeface design include Jos Buivenga from exljbris Font Foundry, Jessica Hische, Steve Matteson from Ascender Corporation, and Charles Nix.

TDC Intro which focuses on exemplary typographic work in the area of movie titles, commercials, and corporate video, is only in its second year. Jakob Trollbäck, is the competition chair (as he was for TDC Intro 010). The lineup of judges include Randy Balsmeyer from Big Film, Timmy Fisher by MK12, Karin Fong from Imaginary Forces.
Like its predecessors, the next TDC Annual (#32) will be the ultimate compendium of the most innovative, most outrageous, and most groundbreaking examples of how we express our global culture through letter-forms. For this year’s competition, the TDC has decided to award its first “Best in Show”, (a bit like electing a King – or Queen – of Typography)
karen is also a type snob 
 

December
30

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Last Updated: December 30, 2010

Topic: Animation

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TOPIC / Animation

Pixar USPS Forever Stamps

Pixar USPS Forever Stamps
In the 2011 line-up of Forever Stamps to be released by the USPS, the ones most likely to have a wide, mass appeal will be those featuring Disney Pixar animated film characters. In terms of happiness level, I like the stamp for Up the best. However, WALL-E seems to be a symbolic pairing with the word “Forever.” The Pixar 20 stamp commemorative pane, titled “Send a Hello,” includes only five different designs, which leaves out plenty of beloved characters and arguably feature films that shouldn’t have been overlooked.
Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up postage stamp
Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (c. 2009)
Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille Pixar stamp
Remy and Linguini from Ratatouille (c. 2007)
Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars / Pixar stamps
Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (c. 2006 / 2011)
Buzz Lightyear and two green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story
Buzz Lightyear and two green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (c. 1995 / 1999 / 2010)
Send a Hello Pixar Disney USPS stamps
“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.”
 

December
29

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Last Updated: June 30, 2011

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TOPIC / Industrial Design

Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps

Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps
As part of the 2011 commemorative postage stamp program just unveiled by the USPS, there is one set in particular that will probably make designers happy. In July 2011, a 12 stamp pane will honor industrial designers that were influential in the 20th century.
industrial design pioneers postage stamps usps
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.
gilbert rohde electric clock postage stamp
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.
frederick hurten rhead fiesta dinnersware stamps
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.

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