The New Bumper Sticker
Every time I go to the post office, I’m surprised at the range of the new stamps I see for sale. It’s hard to believe that every single theme was deemed worthy of releasing as a series, but there you have it: Cowboys of the Silver Screen, Adopt a Shelter Pet, and the Simpsons. Every ethnic and special interest group appear to be quite well served with stamps enabling them to express themselves on every piece of communication they send through the U.S. Mail. Granted, we send fewer and fewer letters these days, but it does seem that stamps are the new bumper sticker, though with an audience of one: the recipient of a piece of mail.
Within a very limited piece of real estate, a message has been crafted on a every single one, the essence of which is something along the lines of “I like National Parks,” “I celebrate Hanukkah,” or “I identify with the Navy.” Because the stamp designers are acutely aware of scale, they’re able to communicate their messages efficiently in these small spaces. Sometimes they even play with scale–the Abstract Expressionist series has many different sizes, just like the paintings they represent.
The Post Office has taken the idea of personal expression to its ultimate conclusion, however. You’re now able to use an image of your choosing to create a personalized stamp. (I have to say that the examples on the USPS site are not particularly inspiring—see images to the left .)
Will we be seeing stamps soon specially concocted for elections? They certainly don’t seem to be pushing that on their website, but with this year’s Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to openly support candidates for office, it may only be a matter of time. Maybe bumper stickers are on the way out.