Royal Mail 2022 Christmas stamps embrace “jewel-like” aesthetic

Baxter & Bailey has worked with illustrator Katie Ponder on six nativity-themed stamps designed to look as if they are emitting light.

Royal Mail’s set of Christmas 2022 stamps have been released today featuring “jewel-like” illustrations of the nativity scene.

Brighton-based studio Baxter & Bailey led the project and worked collaboratively with Kent-based illustrator Katie Ponder on the six-piece stamp set. They also created the presentation pack, mini sheet, and first day cover.

The studio’s creative director Matt Baxter says the “approach and vibrancy of the colours” is a response to the Royal Mail brief, which was to create something “jewel-like”. He adds that the design team looked at various illustrators but identified early on that Ponder’s “colourful style” and use of “clean graphic shapes” fit nicely with the brief.

While Ponder’s work is contemporary and all produced digitally, there is also evidence of “traditional art deco and gothic influence”, according to Baxter & Bailey design director Rory Brady. He adds that her style is a “striking and original” way to tell the nativity story.

Light emits from the Star of Bethlehem on the fifth stamp in the set

Within each stamp is a central point of light, such as the Angel Gabriel in the first and fourth stamp and the Star of Bethlehem in the fifth and sixth stamp. Baxter says this was a deliberate design choice and each stamp should look as if “light is emitting from them”.

The nativity story is told chronologically across the six stamps, starting with the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary on the 2nd class stamp, which will be the most widely used, and ending with the three Magis presenting their gifts on the more expensive stamp. The way that the characters are facing on the far left and far right stamps “bookends the set”, Brady says.

The 2022 Christmas stamp set first day envelope

He adds that a “definitive lead colour” was chosen from each stamp to use for their accompanying QR codes.

Baxter explains that one of the studio’s challenges was “condensing a long story into six key scenes” that would communicate the narrative well. He adds: “It’s also tempting with stamp design to blow them up to a larger size on the screen and work into them that way, but we encouraged Ponder to view them at actual print size”.

This ensured that all the “tiny components”, such as the head, the value and design elements were distinctive at actual size, says Baxter.

Traditionally, Christmas stamps alternate between a nativity-themed set and a secular set year-to-year, however, last year’s stamps designed by Supple Studio also depicted a nativity scene. Baxter says: “Our set has taken a brighter more graphic approach to last years, which adopted a lovely painterly style”.

Baxter & Bailey worked on the project for 18 months. “A phenomenal amount of time, effort and discussion” went into it, considering its “a physically tiny output”, according to Baxter.

The stamp presentation pack

The Christmas 2022 stamp set and accompanying materials are now available to buy.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Isobel smith December 8, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    I was unsure what the new Xmas 2nd class stamp was depicting, had to Google it and look at the bigger image to make out that the yellow object was an angel

  • Sandy Myles December 13, 2022 at 2:22 am

    I had only seen the 2nd class stamp, and I’m afraid I couldn’t ‘read’ the design at all. I came here to see it in context of the other stamps and only now can I see what it’s supposed to be. Singularly poor design in my view. Gabriel’s head is crashing into the old Queen – wrong monarch, of course. Yes, you didn’t have time to change the monarch. When I was trying to work it out the old motto “Colds and sneezes spread diseases” came to mind – I don’t know why.

  • Christine Page December 22, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    disappointed with 2nd class stamp( which I did not buy) could not work it out…. looked like cubist head with thundercloud above. agree with previous comments.
    Still just in time to purchase 1st class stamp perhaps .

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