Tré Seals is a graphic designer specializing in branding, and a typographer. He is the founder of Vocal, a type foundry working to diversify design through typography. Each Vocal typeface highlights a piece of history from a specific underrepresented race, ethnicity, or gender—from the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina to the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Have you designed a stamp before?
I have designed something for the U.S. Postal Service, but I’ve never designed a stamp before.
What was the most interesting or fun aspect of designing a poster stamp? What unique challenges did it present?
It requires you to consider a lot more, in my opinion. As I was coming up with concepts, there was this constant struggle whether to treat the entire sheet as a poster, or each stamp as a poster, what printing techniques come into play, and so much more. The experience is way more intimate than that of a poster, and I think that made the result so much better.
Tell us about the art. Did you create something new for this stamp?
I wouldn’t say from scratch, but the typeface was a work in progress. It’s called William, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author, and more. The typeface is based on this series of infographics he designed back in 1900 about how the institution of slavery was still hindering the progress within the Black community (image example below).
After the recent police killings, the stamps are set in an old police blue, urging people to stamp out discrimination of all kinds, and not Black lives.
Proceeds from the sale of these stamps benefit Movement for Black Lives.
Note that there is an open edition version of this stamp also available as part of the Black is Beautiful set.
W.E.B. Du Bois was hired as a professor at the historically black Atlanta University in 1897 where he would be asked to contribute a social study about African-American life to the Exposition Universelle, the Paris World Fair of 1900.
For Du Bois, the show presented both an opportunity and a challenge. Part of his contribution was carefully curating 500 photographs to show a nuanced snapshot of what life was like for black Americans. While he wanted to use the photographs to undercut racist stereotypes about African-Americans, the images alone did not relay the underlining ways that the institution of slavery continued to impact African-American progress in the country. So he set about making approximately 60 carefully handmade data visualizations, to dictate, in full, vibrant color, the reasons why black America was being held back.
Additional information about Du Bois, infographic images, and typographic specimens for the William font can be found at vocaltype.co