VANCOUVER—Sure Subplot has branded a city aquarium, craft brewery and provincial tennis association but there is one specific job the local design firm has always wanted to lick: designing stamps.
“There’s something wonderfully challenging about something that’s only an inch and a half square,” explained Subplot principal and creative director Matthew Clark, who, along with partner Roy White, was recently commissioned to design a commemorative postage stamp for British Columbia’s 150th anniversary.
“It’s this fascinating tiny area that’s almost like a fine art poster,” continued Clark. “The printing fidelity is fantastic, the exposure is wonderful, and it’s kind of a treat job.”
Clark laughs that Subplot had actually sought out Canada Post about doing a stamp several times to no avail. The call informing the pair that they had been chosen for the B.C. anniversary project came as a welcomed surprise.
The stamp features a gritty picture of a hand panning for gold (representative of the Frasier River gold rush that was integral to B.C.’s conception) and is framed by a stark silhouette of the Lower Mainland area. The sharp image and bold typefaces are a modern departure from the typical images that appear on postage payment.
“When you’re asked to have a broad appeal for a lot of interest groups, the typical way of doing the stamp would have been to have two or three archival images all ghosted into each other,” explained Clark. “We suggested to walk right away from there and to say one thing and say it really well.”
The package backing for the stamps feature a series of photos representing B.C.’s history, while a stylized archival image of B.C.’s first governor James Douglas overlaps the provincial outline on the included envelopes. Subplot also included subtle details, such as a color bar that tells the story of a prospector finding gold and a cancellation stamp that integrates two hands panning for gold.
Admitting that the approval process for this project included interest from myriad groups, Clark praised Canada Post for taking on the brunt of those duties and giving the designers free reign to create something unique.
“Our feedback was that Canada Post was very happy with how we took on the project so we’d love to work on more stamps,” says Clark. “It was a really different project to work on and a really nice opportunity, so hopefully we will do more in the future.” Contact: www.subplot.com