London-based studio NB has designed the stamps for Royal Mail’s Pride-themed collection, working with British illustrator Sofie Birkin.
The project marks the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride rally. The stamps follow a central theme – A March Through Time – which aims to pay homage to each decade of Pride. Animation studio Animade has also crafted a video for the collection.
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NB, which has worked with Royal Mail frequently, was approached at the beginning of 2021 with an “exciting brief” and had a clear goal to “communicate joy and positivity” from the start, according to NB design director Sam Pittman.
Both the stamps and the video aim to be inclusive of all identities, and the process of creating the stamps was took almost a year. Pittman says, “During this time, the Royal Mail engaged Pride organisations around the UK to ensure that the symbolism in the design – from flags to tattoos, clothing to handkerchiefs – was respectful to all identities featured.”
NB is responsible for the design of the eight landscape stamps, presentation pack, first day cover, filler card, three handstamps, coin cover and envelope.
Pittman adds, “We all experienced a feeling of huge responsibility, as the story we were challenged to tell through this stamp series is so personal to so many.” NB commissioned queer British artist Sofie Birkin to do the illustrations, as her style was “effortlessly befitting” of the milestone celebration, says Pittman.
The colour palette used across the stamps and the video intends to incorporate “warm, bright, and vivid” hues that work in synergy with the Pride flag, according to NB. The stamps are also meant to take on a tapestry-like aesthetic when combined.
Pittman explains that this look was chosen because tapestries are physical objects that have “an amazing ability to capture a moment in time with mind bogglingly intricate detail”. He adds, “Committing Sofie’s illustration to the printed format of a stamp felt reminiscent of this.”
According to Pittman, the design team was aware of the Royal Mail’s enormous reach, a fact that drove them to “keep bettering the designs with each iteration”. Pittman adds, “From a pure design perspective, capturing five decades of history and 38 people into eight postage stamps had its challenges.” The design process involved constantly printing out each iteration of the design at 100% scale to ensure that the composition worked in reality.
The typography featured on the stamps is designed by Birkin and attempts to echo the visual language of banners and signs paraded through Pride marches. The lo-fi style is a result of “homemade and hand rendered processes”, according to NB.
The video produced by Animade aims to bring the characters and story to life with what Pittman calls “an added energy that only animation can bring”. Animade executive creative director Ed Barrett says that the studio’s objective was to represent Birkin’s illustrations “in the fullest possible way”, adding that adjustments were made only to “show the narrative progression through time in a more obvious way”.
Animade also benefited from having so much visual material to work with, according to Barrett. He adds that NB trusted in Animade’s expertise to “depict the designs in a way that worked best for animation and social media”. The video will be used across social media to support the launch.
The Pride Special Stamp series is now available to pre-order.