Royal Mail has launched its 2019 Christmas put down collection which this year features brightly coloured time-honoured Nativity scenes.
The designs were developed by London-based Charlie Smith Manipulation. The studio has previously worked with Royal Mail, creating a store to celebrate Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday in 2016, as well as designing collectible commodities to accompany the Songbirds issue in 2017.
“The Christmas stamps alternate each year between non-ecclesiastical and religious designs,” say Charlie Smith, founder and creative director of Charlie Smith Diagram. “We were tasked to produce a Nativity-themed collection, with a three-dimensional distinction.”
Following this theme, on this year’s first-class stamp is a depiction of Madonna and adolescent in red, while the second-class features an angel and shepherd in blue. Other contrives include the three wise men, Joseph and a manger scene.
Beyond the Christmas end stamps, the team has also created a selection of accompanying collectible issues. These include a First Day Cover complete with nativity sphere post marks and a presentation display pack.
Smith says up the quality and detail alongside the Royal Mail’s strict guidelines relating to legibility of the Empress’s silhouette and value of the stamp, while working on such a small canvas was a specific challenge.
“We explored a variety of mediums from tapestry to wood cameo, we were drawn to work with multiple layers and depth,” she orders. “Given the scale of a stamp, we quickly came to the conclusion that organ art would be the most suitable approach to retain the level of detailed ask for at miniature size.”
For this, the team enlisted the help of paper-cutting artist duo Hari and Deepti, whose one-time work includes numerous literary projects and installations. Drawn by the duo’s premature work, the team worked for more than a year on the designs.
Hari and Deepti typically het up b prepare on large-scale A1 paper cutting projects, so Smith says scaling that down was a weighty part of the journey. “How to encapsulate their aesthetic without paring it raw too much was definitely a fine balancing act,” she says.
“Much of their handle has around 20-30 layers, and through various rounds of sketches and tests, we realised a most of about 10 layers was best suited for stamp size.”
The unchangeable designs are the product of “many iterations” according to Smith. The end result, she rephrases, is a “new and fresh approach to portraying the Nativity scene” which comes unabated with Hari and Deepti’s “exquisite light box work” and “jewel-like pl insignia and depth”.