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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Carl Herrman

He's probably one of the most popular artists of this century. My guess is you've probably purchased at least one of his works. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you've probably purchased many of them. Some collectors point with pride in saying they own all of his works, and that's no small feat in that he published more than 400. He was not a painter. You're unlikely see any of his originals on the walls of an art museum, or anywhere else, for that matter. He has a few on the walls of his studio but that's about as far as they go. Most are locked up in vaults and that's where they're likely to stay. And unless you're a philatelist, you've probably never heard the name of Carl Herrman. That's right, he did the kind of artwork people spit on, or lick, or more recently, peeled from waxed sheets and stuck on their letters, which they then pop into mail boxes, never to see again. But it's still art. It's very good art, in fact. It's the art of postage stamp design.

Carl Herrman's first
Carl Herrman lives in North Las Vegas. Retired now, Carl works on his trusty Mac, and  has done postage stamps for around 20 years. That's something like 20 stamps per year. He's nothing if not prolific. His first, the image of the Statue of Liberty before a glorious sunset earned him a following from his number one customer, the US Postal Service. Sometimes they came to him for designs, sometimes he sent them his ideas. In every case, they had to be approved by a citizens' stamp review committee. Very rarely did he have one turned down. Originally from Massapequa, New York, Herrman designed some of the most famous stamps of all time, including one featuring Marilyn Monroe, as well as such other American luminaries as Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Barbie.

Happy New Century
Maybe you recall the official US Postal Service Millennium issue based upon the work of American Illustrator J. C. Leyendecker. Leyendecker's original design appeared on the January 1937, cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Herrman's design included the traditional New Year's baby decked out in top hat, streamers, and confetti with his "2000 banner" having slipped off, lying at his feet. Herman's other work has included stamps dedicated to Slinky, the microchip, submarines, the Vietnam War Memorial, and Cats (those on Broadway). His favorites though, are those devoted to cartoon and comic strip characters. He's especially fond of his Dick Tracy and Prince Valiant designs. And while I said you're unlikely to ever see the originals hanging on any walls other than his own, people do frame his work, either in multiples of four, or whole sheets (panes). Despite his retirement from the USPS in 2008, Carl Herrman has some 30 more stamps scheduled to be released through 2013. His most recent designs features Hawaiian Aloha shirts. Run out and get some today, only 32 cents each, one size fits all.
Herman's Aloha Series released in January 2012

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