Latin Jazz Dispatch from DC : Part 2

October 5, 2008

Katzen Art Center at American University

Katzen Art Center at American University.
Image © Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering P.C.

Back again in DC, I gave stamp talks at AU’s Katzen Art Center on October 2nd and at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum on the 4th. Appreciative audiences and good Q&As at both.

The most often asked question is “How do you get to do a stamp in the first place?” There must be as many answers as there are stamp illustrators, but mine is: Do a Barneys window. That’s where Postal Service art director Richard Sheaff first saw my posters which he procured (through considerable effort) from the New York store staff to display in his DC office, which led to his commissioning me for the Marathon stamp, and in turn the Latin Jazz stamp. So I have Barneys creative director Simon Doonan to thank for initiating that fortuitous chain of events. Thank you Simon!

Oddly, no one’s yet followed up with asking “How do you get to do Barneys windows?” Answer: I don’t remember exactly. Perhaps Simon assumed that it would stop the barrage of letterpress promos I overwhelmed art directors with in those days. It didn’t.

One thing for sure, the window displays and stamps are still among the most exciting projects I’ve worked on. Both Simon and¬†Richard were a joy to collaborate with, and I’ll miss working with Richard now that he’s officially retired.

Budding stamp artist Emma at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum, home to budding stamp artists like Emma.

The Postal Museum’s October 4 Latin Jazz Celebration included a “Design Your Own Stamp” workshop which went over well with youngsters and families. There were more than a few drawings by 9-year olds that would make terrific stamps. Professional illustrators be warned.

Big thanks to Erin Blasco and volunteers Amy Cesal, Shana Weinberg and others for helping make these events a success, and especially to my mom who traveled down from New York to attend them all. Other guests of honor included illustrator Rafael Lopez and family in from San Diego (thanks for the beautiful Obama print, Rafael!), the Smithsonian’s Allison Wickens, and writer Louise Fenner. This trip was all the more memorable for quality time spent with generous friends David Fair, Mark Jickling, and Edith Jickling, and for catching the Corcoran‘s awesome Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power show up through January 25. Highly recommended.