Tag Archives: stamps

About Artistamps

Stamp collecting is a hobby enjoyed by many throughout the world. But did you  know that creating stamps is also a well-loved hobby, and in fact an art form, practiced as long as stamps have been used as legal postage? Artistamps have been known through out the years as Seals, Decals, Poster Stamps, Cinderellas, Faux Postage, Postoids and have even been passed off as real postage.  But at the post office, they are only known as illegal forgeries. Wikipedia defines the  Artistamp as “postage stamp-like art form. It is similar to a Cinderella  stamp, in that it is not valid for postage, but it differs from a forgery … in that no intention is made to fool any post office or collector of stamps. The Artistamp is intended to be a miniature art form which  can depict or commemorate any subject its creator chooses.”

These art stamps have grown more and more common, first with the Dada  Movement in the 1920’s and 30’s and then with the popular explosion of Mail Art  in the 1980’s. In 1991, Nick Bantockbrought the world of Artistamps to the more popular reading public with his rich and wonderfully imaginative series, Griffin and Sabine.

Similar to the standard postage of the past, Artistamps will often be  perforated, gummed and display a country and monetary value. (these are the basic requirements.) They are often created uniquely or in limited editions. Artistamp creators will often include their work on actual mail, alongside valid postage stamps, in order to decorate the envelope with their art, similar to a Commemorative First Day Cover, which also a collectible.

Techniques for the creation of Artistamps vary greatly. They sometimes include perforations and a sticker or gummed backside to more resemble a traditional stamp, but that is by no means a requirement. Artistamps have been  issued in practically every possible format, often mimicking those of the postal services around the world, including  souvenir sheets, stickers and more. The artwork can be hand-drawn or painted,  lithographed or offset-printed, photographed, collaged, Xeroxed, rubber stamped, or printed with a computer printer. This is usually based on the skills, preferences and tools available to the artist.

Frequently the creators of such stamps will create an entire world, society  or political system in which to distribute their mock postage. Others will  comment on our own society or commemorate personal or public life and world events. Still others have made a business of creating for you a personalized stamp. Even now  stamp.com is offering the creation of legal US postage with your own images and  artwork.

So what of collecting these so called stamps? Do they have value? Philately  (stamp collecting) is not an artistic activity – mostly it is a kind of  investment: collecting monetary values. But Artistamps can not be used as legal tender in our current postal system. So they would have more of an artistic value, based on personal aesthetics combined with the popularity and value of the particular artist’s work.

If, then, you purchase Artistamps what should you do with them? Collecting them and saving them in archival stamp books or plastic protected binders is one  option. Using them to decorate your own mail is another. Even framing them and hanging them as a work of art is not uncommon. But whatever you do with them,  once you begin you will find it easy to become addicted to this wonderful form of mini-sized art.

2002: Outta Site

Online All The Time

Click for the gallery of 2002 stamps

Many of these stamps were actually designed in 2001, however they were never printed or released during that year. We hope that the Eyeland will get around to releasing these colorful images in 2002 along with many other new ones.

ALSO released this year is a special 10 sheet  series documenting a decade of stamp making by Exoticia Post.

2001: MORP

Scan’t Imagine the Possibilities

Click for the gallery of 2001 stamps

This year I purchased my first scanner. I have been incorporating many different modes of artistic expression in my current stamps. The scanner and accompanying Photoshop software  has opened up new possibilities for my work. It has also been a lot of fun.

I have also been active in an online artistamp group. It has been rewarding and inspiring to share work with these artists. Many are total newcomers who frequently ask advise of the ‘old sages’. I offer my thought and  opinions. More often that not, I am rewarded with a stamp in the mail that is so fresh and new that it takes my breath away. We talk of techniques, we share our lives and we weave our imaginary worlds together. It has been great fun! Several  of the stamps created this year were for special calls or themes put forth by this group.

I am pleased to be the first featured artist on one of the  web sites that has grown up out of this group of savvy and computer- literate  artists. You can view this article on line at artistamp 101.

I have begun to have perforator envy. Many people in the group have acquired perforators in online auctions. These antiques are large, heavy and hard to come by. But my one-bedroom apartment is not able to accommodate such a monstrous tool.

2000: Heads Of State

 The  Eyeland of Exoticia goes Super Highway

Click for the gallery of 2000 stamps

This year I began using a computer and a scanner to take my other original artwork and turn them into stamp pieces.

Basically, you can see the original pieces in the gallery of this site. I took the virtues and focused the stamp area around the head of the image. The rest of the original piece becomes the selvage of a souvenir style stamp. My plan was to do a stamp version of the entire series of deadly sins and virtues. This project is still in process. Many of the sheets are completed except for perforating. You will notice on the finished ones that the perforation is only around the stamp itself, it does not cut across the selvage area. This type of perforating is very delicate and time consuming to produce.

The Virtuous Heads of State stamps are all about “Bringing” that virtue to the Eyeland of Exoticia. The Eyeland, after many years of moral abandonment, is seeking to reclaim the virtue originally inherent in the Eyeland. The Queen suggested this special campaign on the Eyeland. The governmental officials along with events planners and artists designed a year long celebration to “bring back the virtue” This event has had some difficultly in being fully realized due to the corruption that was rampant among the government at the time. The monies meant to fund the celebration instead funded one sneaky individual to take a trip to Bali. All of the guilty parties have been ferreted out and sent on a slow boat to China. The event’s planning has been re-built but an official date has yet to be set.

1998: Getting A-Head

The age of MS Publisher

Click for the gallery of 1998 stamps

This year I began  using a computer and a scanner to take my other original artwork and turn them into stamp pieces. I also started playing around with MS Publisher, finding that I really like this program in general, but especially to make stamps. I also did several commemorative issues that were released in conjunction with some U.S. Stamps. These were mailed with a special cover that had both the valid US stamp  and the matching Artistamp.

Basically, you can see some of the original  pieces in the gallery of this site. This is the beginning of my stamp ‘heads.’ The idea of having just a head in the stamp and the rest of the image as the selvage around the stamp. You will see more of these in the coming years.

1996: Issue Issues: Breast Cancer Awareness

Click for the gallery of 1996 stamps

I participated in the very first artfest this year. Making some new stamps especially for the occasion. There was a special room set up just for artistampers to have tables to share and sell their work. This event is mostly rubber stampers and was very big. It has  apparently grown in the years following, but I haven’t kept up with it too much.

For these issues, I took some photos of my newer larger pieces. These  were the first collages of this size (up to 4 feet by 4 feet). I cut the photo  into stamp like blocks and laid them out on paper and collage words and other stuff around them. I have always been equally interested in the area around the  stamps as much as the stamps themselves. At this point I was not using a  computer to do my stamps.

These pieces were some of my more feminist thoughts and beliefs, as well as a bit of personal art therapy. There are more details with the specific stamps.

1994: Silly About Selvage

The Joys and Expense of Color Copying to Silly About Selvage

Click for the gallery of 1993/1994 stamps

My first year of stamp creation was well documented by Dominique of Bug Post, who at the  time was writing a definitive guide to Artistamps. This catalogue was written in the style of traditional philatelic stamp catalogues.

BUT then came the  many years following the publication of this catalogue, where I did not have the  same incentive to keep track of the when’s, where’s and how’s of my work. So as I create THIS gathering of my work and it’s history, I am doing a lot of guesswork.

Around this time I began to sign and number the sheets. This adds authenticity to the work as well as providing the details and proof of the limited edition nature of the work. The fewer copies produced of an edition, the  more rare and possibly then, more valuable the sheet.

Due to their limited production, these stamps are very rare!