The Portland Stamp Company The Portland Stamp Company

Stamp No. 51Hilary Pfeifer

This past summer we produced Par Avion! stamp sheet for Hilary’s PostCrossing project. We really enjoyed what she was doing so we invited her to make an Artist Series edition.

Hilary is a craft-influenced sculptor who’s often found scouring hardware stores for her materials. Her artwork explores the natural world through object, collage, installation and public art. She graduated from Oregon College of Art and Craft in 1999. Her work has been featured in American Craft Magazine, and is in the collections of the State of Oregon, The Museum of Art in Wood, many hospitals nationwide, and the White House.


Have you designed a stamp before?

When I was a student at Oregon College of Art and Craft, we were assigned to do a piece in response to the then-current news story about the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. I ended up creating a fictitious U.S. stamp sheet as if that event transformed our nation into one that proudly celebrated sexual diversity. Much like Kyle Goen‘s recent artist series (No. 48) for The Portland Stamp Company, my stamps also took inspiration from Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE typography–but in my stamps, the name of a different sex position/method was written on each stamp in Indiana’s style. Boy, I wish I’d had access to a real perforator for that project because it’s a lot cleaner than the sewing machine punch method I employed!


How was this different?

I really wanted this sheet to work visually as a whole, and also each individual stamp could stand alone as well. I really love how The Portland Stamp Company’s artist series has transformed the common stamp sheet into an art form, but I also wouldn’t mind if anyone broke up the sheet and sent it off as 22 little missives.


What was the most interesting or fun aspect of designing a poster stamp? What unique challenges did it present?

There were two main challenges with this project: First, I found a list of ways to say “air mail” in languages around the world. I needed to double check these to make sure they were not only correct, but still relevant. This became a combination of asking native speakers (including Hope Meng, Artist Series No. 45,) messaging people I’d corresponded with through PostCrossing, or just doing image searches for that country’s air mail stamps just to see the phrase officially in print.

The second challenge was to find a grouping of songbirds from each of those countries that would create a visual and color balance for the whole stamp sheet. And then the colors had to be ones I had on hand because you can’t mix your own colors with vinyl! Lastly, I needed to make sure the bird’s markings were something I could interpret in my simplified style.


Tell us about the art. Did you create something new for this stamp?

I’m traditionally a sculptor who works in wood and metal, but have been experimenting with collage on the side. My technique for collage doesn’t combine found imagery, but rather uses scissors and blades to hand-cut adhesive sign vinyl and faux bois shelf papers—often resulting in a labor-intensive work that contains hundreds of elements. I made a collage of each bird individually, as well as the branch and leaf elements, and then scanned them to create my final layout digitally. Note: A process shot and final collage are shown on this page. 


Anything else?

Thank you so much Josh and Niko for inviting me to be part of this series. I’ve been a snail and air mail lover my whole life, and am so thrilled to see this project come to fruition.

Tip your mail carriers and definitely dump DeJoy!

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The Artist Series

An ongoing collaboration with invited designers, artists, and writers who create original work for an unusual form: the poster stamp. The stamps are printed on lickable, gummed paper and pinhole perforated by hand on our vintage machines. The sheets are signed and numbered by the artist, and released in editions of 100. Suitable for framing. View full series.

Upcoming releases include Bwana Spoons, Ka’ila Farrell Smith, and Art Chantry