Royal Mail’s Alice in Wonderland stamps

Royal Mail has launched a set of Alice in Wonderland-themed special stamps to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the story’s publication.

The set has been designed by Jason Godfrey of Godfrey Design in collaboration with illustrator Grahame Bakersmith, and comprises ten stamps (five pairs) depicting different scenes from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s novel.

Godfrey was approached by the Royal Mail to undertake the project. Alongside the Royal Mail’s stamp advisory committee, he then gathered a roster of potential artists who could be commissioned for the project – illustrator Bakersmith was then selected.

Godfrey says that the project, which took the pair ten months to complete, posed challenges in terms of consistency and scale. “It’s quite tricky with a ten-stamp set to make them look coherent,” he says. “It was important to keep Alice a constant so that the character would work across the whole set – when drafting some illustrations, we thought ‘That’s not quite the same girl’.”

He adds: “Grahame has great skill as a children’s book illustrator on full-page, incredibly detailed illustration. Asking him to work on much smaller 35mm square images meant there were details in his books that wouldn’t show up on the stamps.”

Care also had to be taken with precision, Bakersmith says. “When redrafting, things would be moved by a pixel at a time,” he says. “The changes were so tiny, but they really make a difference to a picture of that size.”

The stamps were designed one or two at a time, rather than all ten in one go, Godfrey says. “It was an organic thing that was constantly evolving,” he says. “We had to try not to repeat layouts and figure out what would work well colour-wise.”

“You also have to make sure that the elbow of one figure isn’t butting into the face of another when you put the stamps side by side,” Bakersmith says. “It had to be carefully planned from the beginning.”

The illustrations are a modernised adaptation of the original John Tenniel illustrations, created through the use of acrylic paint, Photoshop editing and vector shapes. “Everything ended up in Photoshop,” Bakersmith says. “Clean shapes were good for that size, and they brought the illustrations up-to-date.”

Royal Mail has also expanded the brand of the stamp set, working with Walker Books to publish them in a book. Enamel badges are also available to buy, and interactive moving ‘vines’ of the stamps, created by Onlinefire, have been tweeted by the Royal Mail.

Louise Jackson, senior art director at Novelty Books (Walker Books) helped to conceptualise the book project, Bakersmith says: “She had a vision of creating a concertina-type pop-up book of the images: I couldn’t see how they were going to do that at first, but they’ve done something really inventive. It’s the first time the Royal Mail has collaborated with a publisher, so it’s new territory for them, and Walker Books has done a really lovely job on it.”

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