The art of the stamp / by Samantha Murray

With a looming Canada Post strike in Toronto, we were inspired to think about one of the most basic design formats: the postage stamp.

In its small size, a postage stamp remains one of the most telling forms of a designer’s understanding of the principles and elements of graphic design.

A stamp commonly features a host of information, including: denomination and currency, country name, the date and an image, all within a square inch (give or take).

Noted as one of the world’s most collected things, stamps, are an amazing archival tool. They are a medium for countries to capture and communicate timely events and showcase local talent.

Graphilately, a special project by graphic designer Blair Thomson, is a curation of some of the best stamp designs in Canada and abroad. His 80K followers prove that stamps remain an important part of a collective culture and that good design is timeless.

In Canada, there is an official selection process for stamp design, led by a national Stamp Advisory Committee, governed by the Stamp Selection Policy. Canada Post welcomes all Canadians to participate in proposing stamp subjects and designs. We love this set of proposed stamps, designed by Dale Nigel Goble out of Vancouver, BC, in 2013. After collecting postage stamps from international iconic artists and designers, Dale says he wanted to “create a fun and energetic stamp collection that would represent Canada in a more modern style than a lot of postage artwork currently available in Canada.” 

Canada’s first postage stamp featured a beaver and was designed by Sir Sanford Fleming (timezone brainchild) in 1851, with a cost of 3 pence. The stamp is currently on display at the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau, Quebec, as part of their permanent Canadian Stamp Collection exhibit. Thanks to a partnership with Canada Post, the exhibit continues to grow with the release of each new stamp.

At Snack, we are within walking distance to another piece of postal history: Toronto’s first post office. We are hoping the details are sorted out in time for regular mail to carry on nationwide!