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Stamp of Approval

(March 2011) posted on Tue Mar 01, 2011

A tubebender/designer fulfills a great honor


By Michael Flechtner

click an image below to view slideshow

Michael Flechtner is owner of Flectroneonics (Van Nuys, CA)

In 2009, I was contacted by Phil Jordan, who identi¬fied himself as a Falls Church, VA, art director under contract with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Familiar with my art via his son and a few Museum of Neon Art (MONA) postcards, he asked about my interest in creating designs for a neon-themed postage stamp.
Phil thought neon would make a great stamp medium, and he sent me a mock-up of a stamp that incorporated a piece of my artwork. I wrote back that it looked like my work was done and told him where to send the money!

He proposed that I devise three designs for a stamp with a “celebrate” theme. I would have complete freedom, even whether or not to use the word. I signed a contract with the USPS to begin this design phase.


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I started out thinking about what and how we Americans celebrate: weddings, birthdays, achievements and holidays. What imagery would show celebration? I also began to play with the word itself.
I submitted my three designs, in the form of colored-pencil renderings, and Phil presented them to the stamp committee at a regular meeting. Phil said the committee liked the drawing with fireworks and the word “celebrate.” He asked if I would willingly remove some of the imagery and focus more on the fireworks.

As I reworked the design, I understood how fireworks and balloons universally signify celebration. I also surmised that whatever gives fireworks their amazing color and light very closely aligns to the plasma in neon tubes … what a perfect marriage of materials and visual effects!

After I submitted my reworked design, Phil requested a final simplification … to remove a stylized cityscape. He also said half of the stamp committee absolutely loved the design with no concern about its translation into neon. The other half approved the design, but questioned a successful conversion. Phil proposed to the committee that I proceed, adapt the design to neon and, based on the outcome, they would make the final decision. The committee approved the expenditure for the neon work.


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