Royal Mail hasn’t just been painting mail boxes gold in the hometowns of Team GB’s gold medal winners. Every time a GB gold medal is won, Royal Mail’s in-house design team creates a special stamp in honour of its winner which, impressively, can be bought in shops around the country the very next day…
Above is the design (already on sale) commemorating the gold medal that Nicola Adams won yesterday in the women’s fly weight boxing, and below are the designs for the other two GB golds won yesterday, by Charlotte Dujardin in the individual Dressage event, and (further down the blog post) also Jade Jones’ Taekwondo gold in the women’s under 57kg category.
“Next-day stamps are a first for Royal Mail and although we are not the first to do next-day Gold Medal stamps, we are the first to feature action images on next-day stamps,” says Marcus James, head of design and editorial at Royal Mail Stamps.
Getting stamps designed and ready to be sold in Post Offices the following day has represented a serious design challenge for Royal Mail and one that has actually been in the planning for about two years, James explains, “with the last year in particular spent carrying out weekly testing where we have used thousands of images from previous Olympic Games to test the fast-paced nature of the project.”
“All Royal Mail teams have been putting in very long hours to ensure all events that feature Team GB are covered,” he continues. “Saturday 4 August, when we won six gold medals, put us under enormous pressure, especially as three of the gold medal winners – Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah – all won gold within 45 minutes of each other. This project was very different for the design and editorial team at Royal Mail, as usually we art-direct and manage other designers, but the many hours of rehearsing meant that the team were well prepared and stepped up to the challenge to ensure the stamps were ready for the next day.”
“Last night, Jade Jones (above) won her medal at around 10.45pm,” says James. “Within minutes Getty Images pushed photographs via a live feed to the Royal Mail design team. We then had just minutes to select the image that captured the gold-medal winning moment and carried out necessary cropping, retouching and colour balancing. So within the hour of the medal win we had sent approved designs to the six printers located throughout the country. They printed overnight in order for the stamps to dry, be cut into sheets and packaged up ready for the fleet of almost 100 vans to collect the consignments in the early hours and then take them to the network of 517 post offices, where they were on sale the morning after the win. This is Royal Mail’s fastest ever stamp – in under 12 hours after Jade Jones won her gold medal, members of the public were buying the stamps from post offices.”
Stamps are available online from royalmail.com/goldmedalstamps
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The August Olympic Special issue of Creative Review contains a series of features that explore the past and present of the Games to mark the opening of London 2012: Adrian Shaughnessy reappraises Wolff Olins’ 2012 logo, Patrick Burgoyne talks to LOCOG’s Greg Nugent about how Wolff Olins’ original brand identity has been transformed into one consistent look for 2012, Eliza Williams investigates the role of sponsorship by global brands of the Games, Mark Sinclair asks Ian McLaren what it was like working with Otl Aicher as a member of his 1972 Munich Olympics design studio, Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder shows off some of his prize Olympic items from his vast archive, and much more. Plus, Rick Poynor’s assessment of this year’s Recontres d’Arles photography festival, and Michael Evamy on the genius of Yusaku Kamekura’s emblem for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
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