Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Stamp Art is Small

The National Institute of Health Library recently held a symposium about sickle cell disease.

Here’s the display they did in the library showing the original stamp art. The tiny oil painting is framed in the lower left of the glass case.

The original oil painting is no bigger than a postcard. There’s a reason that the Post Office asks artists to paint stamp art that small. If you let an artist do a large painting, they’ll most likely put in lots of detail that will become lost when the art is reduced.
Photos by ED’WW Flickr Pool
Previous GJ Posts: Sickle Cell 1, Sickle Cell 2
NIH Symposium


Tyler J said...

Really cool information. It's the kind of thing I would never think of but when you put it out there it makes so much sense.

In thinking of the dinosaur page (with multiple stamps) that you did for the post office, clearly they gave you more room. How much more?

James Gurney said...

Tyler, the "World of Dinosaurs" stamps, which had two scenes and 15 stamps in all, were a little less than 24 inches wide. The art for those was oil on bristol board, and it had to fit on a limited size drum scanner at the time.

So it was a little less than 4-up, which is the max that they want artist to work.

I think there are artists whose work has simplicity of design (Norman Rockwell comes to mind), and those paintings would work as stamps even if they were painted at a large size.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! I have always been curious about stamp art; especially your dinosaur stamps. Knowing that it was only 24 inches wide makes me appreciate your work so much more; there was so much detail and nuance!

Veya said...

My fsthfat has a sheet of the sickle cell stamps framed. I've already claimed it for inheritance... But would love a larger print of the orginal art!! Is it possible to purchase anywhere???

James Gurney said...

Hi, Veya,
Thanks for the kind words. I'm not able to make a print of the stamp art, but I believe the US Postal Service will make a poster size repro for a fee. I'm not sure who you would go through for that, but I'd start at the US Postal Service Design Department.