Eric Gill had exacting and pointed opinions about postage stamps, their purpose, and their design. Unfortunately, his theories didn’t always hold up when put into practice, and he had a less than successful career as a designer of stamps. Accompanied by nine of Gill’s previously unpublished preparatory drawings and sketches for stamps, Notes on Postage Stamps is a short, previously unpublished essay by Gill in which he succinctly lays out his philatelic ideas—some of which were a little too idealistic and some of which were spot-on. All of them are interesting and thought-provoking.
[U. S. paper money] stands as the prime symbol of value in the inﬁnite transactions of a great commercial nation. It is worth its face in gold . . . but, my God! what a face! —W.A. Dwiggins
A good graphic designer pays attention to small things, and there are few things smaller than stamps. Ivan Chermayeff has been paying attention. For almost fifty years the acclaimed graphic designer has been making collages—and in those collages stamps and mail have played an important role. Envelopes are heads. Stamps are eyes and lips. However, one could be forgiven for never having noticed this, as the whole in Chermayeff’s collages is greater than the parts.
Niko Courtelis is a creative director, filmmaker, and butcher of stamps. We should each be so lucky to be carved up with such adventure and care. Cut and shockingly reassembled, these stamp collages have scandalous fun with the often mundane world of stamps. Philatelic Atrocities takes these paper Frankensteins and turns them into a lookbook of freaks, oddities, printing, and design.
Since 1920 the American Institute of Graphic Arts has been awarding its AIGA Medals “to individuals who have set standards of excellence over a lifetime of work or have made individual contributions to innovation within the practice of design.” To date, 155 designers have been awarded Medals; only a handful have designed government-issued postage stamps. This is their story.
Kat Ran Press was founded in 1994 by Katherine and Michael Russem with the goal of combining classical typography and contemporary art with the old ideals of fine printing. The Press had a pretty good run over the next eighteen years, printing everything from modest pamphlets to portfolios which have fetched as much as $1 million at auction. With the closing of the letterpress plant in Florence earlier in 2012, the staff of the Cambridge Offices decided to put together a 60-page illustrated checklist of the over eighty limited editions designed, printed, and/or published at Kat Ran. Included is everything from the student books of the Russems to the last books they printed for The Lone Oak Press and Sherwin Beach Press.
In the afterword to this collection, William Corbett writes that Michael Gizzi (1949–2010) “was one of those generous souls who served poets and poetry,” and these sixteen poems celebrate both his friend and friendship. Corbett recalls the people, places, and events that make up a well-lived life, and the four peculiar and lovely drawings by Natalia Afentoulidou are the perfect companion to these poems, ensuring the feeling of a celebration—never a dirge.
Melissa Shook came to Boston from New York in 1974 to teach photography at MIT. She soon discovered Suffolk Downs. Though she did not bet, she felt comfortable at the track, enjoying the sounds, the crowd and the people who worked with the horses. Over the next thirty years she documented her Suffolk Downs in photographs and poems concentrating on the trainers, hot walkers, exercise riders, horse shoers, dentists, those who delivered hay, feed, and ice, and the jockeys and their agents.
Lance Hidy, the accomplished designer of books, posters, types, and stamps, takes us through the process of designing a postage stamp while explaining how the small Mentoring stamp relates to his larger body of work. Thirty-eight full-color reproductions illustrate the photographs, designs, and drawings which were part of the design process, as well as related posters and illustrations from the last thirty years of Hidy’s work.