These miniature masterpieces are the work of Derry Noyes, a longtime art director for the USPS. For nearly 40 years, she’s been creating minute tributes to some of the biggest names in American art and design:
Isamu Noguchi, and
Charles and Ray Eames ,to name a few.
The new Kelly stamps, in particular, offer a rare window into the little-known process of creating postage stamps.
It all begins with the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC)—a 12-person panel composed of historians, educators, designers, and others who determine the subjects for each year’s crop of stamps. (Noyes actually served on the committee herself for several years, before transitioning to art direction in the early 1980s.) Their goal, she said, is “to pick a broad spectrum that reflects American history, pop culture, people, events—to try to get a good balance for each year.”
Usually, Noyes noted, abstract art is a hard sell for the CSAC. But Kelly’s work sailed through the approval process. “This art is so well-suited for stamps,” she explained. “It reduces down beautifully. The simplicity of the forms and the bright colors and the crispness of it all, it’s just made for stamp size.” This is not often the case, she added. “When you reduce art down, it can get very muddled, sort of fussy,” Noyes continued. “It doesn’t look well at a tiny size, whereas it looks great as a poster.”