Monday, November 15, 2010

Sickle Cell Stamp, Part 1

Tomorrow, the National Institute of Health will host a symposium discussing sickle cell disease. On display at the gathering will be the original oil painting I produced for the 2004 U.S. Postal Service stamp commemorating the disease.

Today and tomorrow I’ll tell the story of the making of that stamp.

Over the years the U.S. Postal Service has released stamps designed to help raise awareness about health issues. When the Stamp Committee decided on a stamp recognizing sickle cell disease and asked me to design it, I was honored to take on the challenge.

I knew it would not be easy to visualize an incurable hereditary blood disease in a way that would be inviting and interesting. The image that comes readily to mind when people think of sickle cell disease is a microscope slide showing the elongated red blood cells alongside normal round cells.

The credit for the design solution belongs to veteran art director Howard Paine, who suggested portraying the scene in universal human terms. Because the disease or the trait is passed down from parent to child, he proposed showing a parent’s love for her baby. Why not show a mother and a child interacting with love and affection? The message then becomes a positive one, reminding at-risk parents to test early to find out whether they carry the gene.

I sketched up several different design ideas in color. The most successful version shows the mother holding up her year-old child in profile and giving him a kiss. The committee approved the design (sans microscope slide) and gave me the go-ahead.
In part 2, I describe how I went from the roughs to the finished art.
Sickle Cell Conference at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD, Nov. 16 and 17
Wikipedia on Sickle Cell Disease


tiffannysketchbook said...

what an honor to be painting a US postage stamp! Congrats and good work :)

Brian Kramer said...

Got my ImagineFX magazine in the mail today and found this excellent
poster - Thank You! Cannot wait to read your new book. :)



Unknown said...

The kiss is definitely the cutest. Great work, as always, Jim!

Unknown said...

Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are talking about!
Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my website.
the stamp collection

Unknown said...


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Growing up was like hell because apart from the pain and the fear of it, I also lived in bondage for years before Dr Alegbe intervention.

I was restricted from doing what my mates could do, there was a lot of don’t touch, don’t eat, don’t go, don’t wear by the doctor and I lived all through this period on drugs. I was made to know that without this pill, my life will would finally come to an end. It was total bondage.

During this period of pain, I would cry, shout, throw myself to the ground, destroy things I could find around me just because of restlessness the pain caused. My Dad got the contact of Dr Alegbe from the internet and he emailed him told him about me and made purchase from his product. I too the medication for one month and he always call to know how am feeling, that was how i was cured completely. any one can reach him On his gmail address at

I stopped taking my drugs because Dr Alegbe John has made me completely cured, I no longer feel pain neither do I remember how it feels.