In this blog read my answers to a interwiew questions by Ida Kristine Gismervik Graphic design student at Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo, Norvay
Post stamp design is and was always problematic. Stamp have limitations of space and text when you need to find the right communicative idea solution for the subject and this have to be taken in mind when you create the design, usually made 4-6 times bigger. The design should not loose details when reduced to the actual size of a stamp. The answers below are the result of my long experience of more than fifty years in stamp design
Comments are welcomed.
? What/Who inspires you? Where do you get your inspiration
It's hard to me to define to define factors of my creativity and inspiration. I suppose that one of them is the fact that I extremely love my profession as one of the most exiting professions of our time. I believe that inspiration is the inner radiation of life excitements over the years, remembrance of meetings with inspirational cultural and art events or objects that you loved and above all your intimate sensitivity to the best qualities of the arts.
What is your background and what lead you into stamp design?I was born in Bulgaria and came to Israel in 1948. I studied art and graphic design in the Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. After my duty in the army I opened my office in Tel Aviv as independent designer as is until today. I started to design stamps in 1957 for an international competition for stamps on Bible subjects by the Israeli post office where I won the first prize for three stamps of the Bible kings. Later I've been taken stamp design course and this was my start of my career in stamp design.
One of my first stamps issued for the international campaign "Freedom from Hunger"
How do you get involved with the stamp-projects? Do you present an idea/artwork, or do the Israeli Post Office come to you?
The process goes this way: The Israeli Philatelic Service (IPS) sends invitation to number of graphic designers (5 to 10) for participation in a paid stamp design contest on a certain subject (Bible, History. Holidays, Economics, Science, Jewish life etc.). Designers need to create designs on the subject to be juried by professional commission of public people and designers. After the stamps are selected by the jury the winer gets the job and makes the artwork for the printing process. The IPS takes care for the printing of the stamps.
What is the process during the designing of a stamp like for you (ideas, sketching, who chooses the motives, etc)?
Subject is supplied by the IPS. I work on design ideas and sketches after researching the subject, reading materials, looking for visual items like photographs, books and illustrations. For Bible motives I read the specific parts of the Bible story or written material about the ideas imbedded in the story or the subject chapter. Final sketches are result of a long development process and endless changes of ideas and visuals.
What kind of techniques do you use designing stamps?/How do you work
Do you design 1:1
I am not limiting myself in using different art and design technics. I use these who are creatively influenced by the subject. Art technics were always part of my stamp design: woodcuts, old manuscript decorations, stained glass windows, watercolor etc. I started to use computer in the beginning of the nineties. The computer software give me the freedom of creating several variations of the design so I could choose the one I think is the right one. I can not say that I am not influenced by changing fashions in graphic design but this influences should be applied only if they are not harming the subject idea . Stamp have limitations of space and text and this have to be taken in mind when you create the design, usually made 4-6 times bigger. The design should not loose details when reduced to the actual size of a stamp.
The Jewish Holiday Sucot stamps (Designed in the medieval illuminations style)
What are your thoughts on designing with religious motives? Do you see it as designing religious motives, or as designing with a use of traditional Israeli elements?I would really like to hear a little bit about just that because in Norway it would not be legal to publish stamps with religious motives.
You need to know that subjects for stamps are submitted to IPO every year from ordinary people in Israel. From these submissions a state committee selects group of subject to be issued as post stamps over the year. As I told you before subject content is different. Subject usually reflect the Israeli life, commemorate historical and current events and are cultural reflections of our Jewish life. Religious subjects are not selected for not to hurt religious people sentiments and filings. But there are subjects to commemorate Jewish Holidays or events from the Bible (like The Bible kings and heros or the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs designed by me and my friend M.Pereg) and other holiday and personalities stamps.
I intend to publish in the internet all my stamps in the near future.
Could you compare stamp design with other design processes that you have been involved with?
No, stamp design have the requirement of solving communication goals in a small and limited space of paper. Only ideas can be common other design items. Generally different kinds of design process have his special design requirements and common connections.
Are there any of your stamp-series you would like to enhance? It would be really interesting to hear the story about some of these.
It happens when after distance of years you are requested to design stamp with similar subjects like the Israel independence year stamps in 1964 with subject of the main achievements of the Israeli science: Biology, Computers, Astronomy. In 1988 I vas invited to design again this time stamps about the achievements of the Israeli modern industry:Computers in Industry, Generic Engineering, Medical Engineering. You can see difference of style and approach.
Israel's Sixtieth Independence Day-1964
How do you work with colors and choosing colors?
Colors are most characteristic for my art and design, I choose my color scale partly intuitively and partly by keeping rules of color composition the result of personal preferences. color needs and esthetics for the subject. look at the backgrounds of the stamps above:For stamps on the top I have chosen somewhat deep space backs on the contrary of the somehow flat color good for statistic charts as the stamps look in the bottom.
Fifty years of Israel's membership in the UN
Do you have any personal favorites that you would like to enhance? Either because it is a dear design to you, or because of the story behind it. Please tellMaking better design is non stop process for creative professionals. Your approach in design changes over the years you stay in the profession. Yes, I think that i would like to enhance some of my earlier designs if I need to. But creative people look ahead in the future and not in the past.
How many stamps have you designed?About sixty five for Israel and about ten for the United Nations Postal Service.
What are your thoughts about the future of stamps with email and internet now replacing more and more the ways we communicate?
The new communication technology is placing under question the existence of the stamps as postal need. New stamps will maybe continue to be issued in the future as philatelic collectors items.