Thursday, 11:00am
28 November 2013

A century of lick and stick

Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists

Michael Russem<br> The Kat Ran Press<br> $24 postpaid within US, $30 postpaid internationally

Michael Russem’s Postage Stamps By AIGA Medalists features graphic design in miniature from 1909-2007

Michael Russem’s book Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists, showcases almost every known stamp designed by a medallist, writes Meredith Thomas.

Since 1920, the American Institute of Graphic Arts [AIGA] has awarded its medals to 155 designers. Of those designers, only 23 have designed government issued postage stamps.

AIGA Stamp spread, 1909-1932.
Top: Saul Bass, Science & Industry United States, 1983.


With 76 full colour illustrations, Russem’s booklet presents the designers’ work with minimal text, showing most of the stamps at their original size.

Herb Lubalin, J. Pistili and J. Lombardero, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty and Abraham Lincoln United States, 1959-1962.


In order to prevent counterfeiting, the denomination of official stamps reproduced at original size has to be cancelled out with a black rule.

Rudolph Ruzicka, Christmas Seal American Lung Association, 1923; W. A. Dwiggins, Massachusetts Bay Colony US, 1930; W. A. Dwiggins, Hypothetical Stamps From Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency, The Limited Editions Club, 1932.


The stamps are presented in chronological order, from 1909 to 2007. Design approaches vary widely: from the traditional portrait of Lester Beall’s 1967 Andrew Jackson (see ‘Space, time and content’ in Eye 24) via the graphic landscape of Ivan Chermayeff’s 1967 Canada Centenary (see ‘Flight of the imagination’ in Eye 73) to the type and symbols of icons of Milton Glaser’s 1993 Healthy Environment (see ‘Reputations: Milton Glaser’ in Eye 25).

Stamp spread featuring stamps designed by Leonard Baskin, Georg Olden, Armin Hofmann, Ivan Chermayeff, Thomas Geismar, Alvin Eisenman and George Tscherny, 1967-1976.


Russem provides a brief historical overview in the opening pages adding context to the designs and the concept of the AIGA medals.

Detail from the cover of Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists featuring Herb Lubalin, J. Pistili and J. Lombardero’s Liberty Bell stamp, 1959-1962.


Cover of Michael Russem’s Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists.


The 24-page, saddle-stitched book is available by mail order from Kat Ran Press ($24 + pp).

Meredith Thomas, Eye intern, Autumn 2013

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.