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Portrait of the artist

Alcalá recalls memorable stamp designs

Antonio Alcalá
In a new AARP video profile, USPS Art Director Antonio Alcalá discusses the challenges and rewards of designing stamps.

Every stamp tells a story, and so does every stamp designer.

USPS Art Director Antonio Alcalá, who previously designed multi-page books and museum installations, approaches stamp design a little differently.

“You have to figure out on that tiny, tiny canvas what are the essential elements to tell the story that needs to be communicated,” Alcalá says in a new AARP video.

Alcalá, one of four USPS art directors, collects all the stamps he’s worked on, but has a few personal favorites.

The Wilt Chamberlain stamp stands out not only because the 7-foot-1 star was the first professional basketball player on a stamp, but also because Alcalá designed it to be one-third inches taller than normal size.

Meanwhile, the Emancipation Proclamation stamp involved setting wood type by hand and first printing the stamp as a poster before photographing it for the stamp’s artwork.

Alcalá is happy his work helps people celebrate special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day and weddings.

“It’s nice that generally people have chosen [stamps] for a specific reason, they want to put that on a message they are sending to someone,” he says.

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