Jersey Post recently brought out their “Coastal Flowers: Post and Go” stamp issue, which I was lucky enough to have illustrated. (All illustrations in this blog are copyright Jersey Post 2020).
Each stamp issue involves illustrating six stamps, a presentation pack, an envelope for the First Day Cover, and a date stamp. This is the sixth series of stamps I’ve done for Jersey Post, so I’m used to the sizes and the exacting nature of the work.
Coastal Flowers: Stamps
The six species chosen for the stamps were all beauties. One of the main challenges with illustrations for postage stamps is to make sure the composition works. You need to leave room for the queen’s head (the Gudgeon), and the name of the species illustrated in both English and Latin in the bottom right hand corner.
Common Centaury stamp
Seaside Daisy stamp
The illustrations are all completed far larger than the reproduction size, and to an identical format. It may not sound that hard, but cramming very differently shaped plants into the same layout, without making them look odd or crushed, is tricky.
Sea Rocket stamp
Another challenge is that each flower requires a background. This needs to echo the plant habitat, and be clear, but unobtrusive. Sand is easy enough; an ochre colour with splatterings from a toothbrush. With shingle, each pebble needs illustrating. If the plant grows on coastal grassland, you need to show the grass without distracting from the focus of the illustration.
Yellow Horned-poppy stamp
Rough Star-Thistle stamp
You also have to keep in mind that the illustration will be reduced to 3cm x 2.5cm. Anything too complicated will cease to register clearly. Of all these six designs, the one which suffered most from reduction at reproduction is the Rough Star thistle. It still reads, but the composition was a little too complicated for the final size of the stamp.
The photo below shows me illustrating the poppy, and gives an idea of the size of the original artwork.
Illustrating the Yellow Horned-Poppy
Coastal Flowers: First Day Cover
The illustration for the first day cover (FDC) appears on the corner of an envelope. This envelope has the whole series of stamps poppped onto it, which are franked and sent out to collectors and post offices.
One of my favourite seaside flowers featured here, Sea stock Matthiola incana.
It’s such a delicate flower, with the barely-mauve petals, and the soft blue-green leaves.
It’s interesting to note that lots of coastal plants have blueish, hairless, and waxy leaves. Please check out my blog on salt-tolerant plants (Halophytes) for more on this. !! LINK!!
The format for this illustration is far freer. It simply needs to look classy in the corner of the envelope, and not get in the way of the six stamps or the text.
FDC envelope featuring Sea Stock
Coastal Flowers: Presentation Pack
The presentation pack featured a cliff view with Thrift. I’ve recently written a blog on the processes and challenges involved in completing this illustration which I’ll publish soon, and made a film of me working on the image.
Again, the original is larger than the reproduced illustration, although less than with the stamps artworks.
This presentation pack can be stored in a ring binder, and has the series of six mint stamps within it.
Coastal Flowers: Date stamp
The last component of this “Post and Go” stamp issue is the date stamp. This is what gets printed on top of the stamps on the first day cover, and echoes the theme of the issue. I chose the Yellow Horned-poppy for the date stamp as it was the clearest and simplest of the flowers. More than any other element of the stamp design process, the date stamp needs to be extremely simple, and it’s vital that it doesn’t obscure the stamps it’ll be franking.
This one made me laugh a bit. Initially I submitted an illustration of the flower with its seed pod. Then the designer and I had a re-think – there’s just something a little too potentially rude about the image. I revised it and took out the seed case, and this is the illustration used for the final.
Artwork for date stamp, with then without seed pod.
The Jersey Post Coastal Flowers issue was such a fun project to work on, I really enjoy working with Jersey Post. I’m pleased with the designers who’ve done good things with the text and presentation pack. I love the species which were chosen and it also tied in with coastal flowers I was illustrating for Field Studies Council, so I had all my maritime flora reference to hand. It inspired me to research and write a blog on salt-loving plants, the Halophytes.
I hope Jersey Post will continue to use me as an illustrator on their stamp issues. The work is exacting and enjoyable, the pay is good, and you never know what theme the next issue will focus on!