Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Baddest Stamp

The US Post Office seems to get few things right these days.  There is an exception:  The Johnny Cash forever stamp which was issued in June, but I just bought today. 

This has got to be the coolest stamp.  16 stamps on a sheet which is designed to look like a 45 picture sleeve.  I was so impressed with the art direction, that I had to research.  According to the USPS site, the photograph was taken by Frank Bez during the photo session for Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, which was released in 1963.  Greg Breeding served as art director and designer for the stamp.

Frank Bez shot many celebrities and did a lot of work for Esquire Magazine.  Here is a slide show of a few of his shots and stories behind them. The Jim Morrison photo has to make you laugh.  Duke Ellington was his favorite session.  He has photographed everyone from Angie Dickinson (her Esquire cover has been reproduced a few times) to the Byrds to Mahalia Jackson to Raquel Welch.   How does this guy not have a Wikipedia page? 

Greg Breeding is on assignment by the USPS and was given this project.  (There are three other designers on assignment with the USPS.)  He was born the same year the photo of Johnny was taken.  In an interview on Soundcheck  Greg said when he was a young boy and used to watch Johnny's TV show he thought,  "He was a scary figure to me."   He acknowledged the enormity of finding a photo that summed up Johnny's career.  Greg got the stamp right. Not only does he pay homage to the man in black, but he does so in a simple classic design with great use of brown, black and fonts. 

I thought it was hard to go from designing albums to CD's, but a stamp has got to be a whole other challenge. 

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