I used to collect everything from stickers to comics to the freebies in cereal packets and stash them in old shoeboxes. I have always hoarded ephemera and pieces of print, whatever the format, and this still continues today, although my tastes have refined to design books, posters, comics, stamps and anything I like the look of.
However, my nan is the reason I started collecting stamps, and why I say I didn’t realise I was doing it. Growing up, I loved stickers, but she felt there was more value in stamps, and how right she was. Every Wednesday she would bring the latest British first day cover set over to my mum’s house without fail, along with a collection of used stamps from around the world, passed on to her by her friends and relatives. I diligently mounted these stamps into albums and stockpiled the first day covers.
As I got older I grew out of collecting stamps, but still the stamps kept coming. Years passed (school, college, university, a career in graphic design) and I found myself flicking through a copy of Drip Dry Shirts: The Evolution of the Graphic Designer, where I came across pictures of the Dutch Postal Service stamps designed by Wim Crouwel. Instantly I was taken back 20 years to my youth. There was a key stamp I had always remembered, liked and now really admire. I think this sums up the power of the stamp and good stamp design: an image so small and simple, yet so memorable.
This reignited my interest in stamps. They often say you revisit things you enjoyed in your youth, but do it with more wisdom and passion when you’re older. I collect stamps purely for their aesthetic value now, anything that takes my eye. Hours are spent on Ebay trawling through collectors’ shops and private collections and visiting the odd stamp shop. It’s a great feeling to find a gorgeously designed stamp, especially one with great print production: a fifth colour, metallic inks or some embossing. I feel stamp design is somewhat overlooked. Making the best use of such a small space whilst relaying an important message, or cultural/historic fact, is an artform.
Iain Follett, creative director of Un.titled has worked closely with brands such as Land Securities, Speedo, John Smedley, Keenpac and Portsmouth FC. Iain is also the founder of creative brand Adapt or Die, under which his personal work is showcased. Through Adapt or Die Iain recently collaborated alongside Darren Firth of WIWP (wearitwithpride.com) to co-design the recent book Two Faced: The Changing Face of Portraiture and was part of the team behind the Two Faced exhibitions in Hong Kong at Agnes b’s Librairie Galerie and at COSH in London.
He lives in Bedfordshire and divides his work time between London and the Midlands.