Can Stamps Be Cool?
I hadn't given stamps much of a thought since I tended my modest collection as kid more than a few years ago. But I've been getting excited about them all over again lately, thanks to the emergence of two Web-based firms that let you create U.S. postage in a variety of denominations bearing an image of your own creation.
What a great idea. Most stamps are pretty dull and it's not much of a thrill having to seek out a post office to purchase them. Using a postage meter is even grimmer. While these services are designed to let the average Joe create stamps bearing pictures of the kids or a beloved pet, for a designer this presents some interesting possibilities.
Everything you send out should reinforce your identity in some way, so slapping whatever in the top-right corner of an envelope is a waste of an opportunity. Stamp art has a long and honored history, so this is a chance to show how much graphical savvy you can pack into a tiny space. It just makes sense to take control of that little rectangle when sending mail to existing clients or as part of a self-promotional mailing (you do those, don't you?). And this might even be a service that you can add to an existing job for some of your clients.
There may be more firms that I haven't come across yet, but you can start by checking out PictureItPostage and PhotoStamps. Both provide a simple Web-based approach to upload an image, perform basic image manipulation and choose a few parameters such as text or background color. PictureItPostage claims that your image covers 46% more of the stamp than unnamed competitors, which is a good thing, although both services fill the non-image area with some pretty clunky stuff, including their URL.
Below is a screen shot of me messing around with the PhotoStamps service, using an image by Alex Preiss. Would something that wacky pass muster with its terms of service? Who knows.
These are no doubt early days in the history of personalized postage, but in an era of increasing visual blandness the opportunity to make a personal design statement, no matter how small, seems worth a look.