The Portland Stamp Company The Portland Stamp Company

Stamp No. 036Michael Shea

Michael Shea was born in the Midwest where his lifelong love of art, design, junk, and story began. Narrative is at the heart of his work with brands and studios such as Nike, Levi Strauss, JDK, Burton Snowboards, and The National Gallery of Art. He can be found these days living in a 100 year old house in Portland, Oregon with his wife Kelly, son Porter, and cockapoo Mosley.


Have you designed a stamp before?

I once designed a stamp as a design school project back in the day. It was a typography research project, and the brief was to research a typeface, the creator, and cultural context.


How was this different?

This was a first in terms of designing for actual execution. This one is different because there was no “brief.” Just a blank template. It was fun to consider a story or commentary, matched with production technique. 


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

The most enjoyable part of this stamp was how the concept evolved in the first place. It was all about paying attention. The challenge I suppose was considering if anyone would tear them apart, and what would be left behind. Each one became kind of a little composition itself. 


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

I took the image in my kitchen, where I had stashed the old fork that I had found years ago in our yard while gardening. Our house is over 100 years old, so I have no idea when it found its way into the ground. Maybe after a picnic in 1934? Who knows. The knife was a gift from my big brother when I was a kid; many memories of its use in Alaska. The spoon is a hand made porcelain piece a good friend gifted us. So I guess this is a lost and found kind of thing, and the idea came from what’s going on right now in the world. These things are metaphors for human behavior, as each of these implements has a different job, and connotation. We can choose to cut like a knife, serve as a spoon, or capture as a fork. The butterfly was found outside in the yard as well, where it had died intact. To me, it represents beauty and freedom, as in we all have freedom of choice to do good or not. Probably overthinking it, but this was really a fun exercise.


Anything else? 

That’s about it. Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this stamp. 


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