Canada Post Winter Olympic Stamps
Canada Post has issued several sets of postage stamps in association with Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada Post is the Official Supplier of postage stamps for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, providing collector’s packages, hand stamps and stamp related souvenir licensed products.
Canada Post began their run in 2009 with five PERMANENT™ domestic rate stamps showcasing 2010 Winter Games sports of curling, snowboarding, freestyle skiing, bobsleigh and ice sledge hockey. “We were inspired by Olympic imagery of the 1940s and 1950s, particularly the highly romanticized silk-screened posters of the era,” explains John Belisle, creative director of Signals Design Group in Vancouver. “We started with basic sketches of athletes in action and, to give the design a contemporary spin, we layered the images.” These layers of transparencies capture the movement of the athletes.
Canada Post continued their issue of Olympics PERMANENT™ domestic rate stamps with a set of emblems and mascots, designed by Naomi Broudo and Violet Finvers at Tandem Design, Vancouver. The two emblem-related stamps feature the Inukshuk and the Winter Games emblem, embodying harmony between athlete, sport and environment. The blue and green colour scheme in the stamps’ background represents the Vancouver 2010 Sea to Sky theme, a concept linking the scenic coastal city with Whistler’s majestic ski slopes. An added dash of creativity makes these domestic definitives extra special.
The Vancouver 2010 mascots, Miga, Quatchi and Sumi, were inspired by British Columbia’s iconic geography and are rooted in Aboriginal legend. Sumi*, an animal guardian spirit, is the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic mascot and is found curling on the oversize denomination stamp. Miga is a sea bear who transforms from orca whale to white Kermode bear. She shows off her ski tricks on the US rate stamp. Quatchi, a shy, adventurous sasquatch, plays hockey on the international rate stamp.
Tandem Design were responsible for two stamps celebrating the Olympic venues, Vancouver and Whistler. “The design team’s goal was to create a souvenir for people coming to the Games,” says Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. “They decided to focus on the venues, with an emphasis on how stunning they are.” “Working with photographs can be difficult because they are very rarely meant to be viewed at such a small scale,” explains Leduc. “In the case of the Whistler photograph—a very dramatic shot—we added a darker blue to enhance the contrast. As for the Vancouver shot, we extended the glow coming in from the left-hand side to make it clear that the photograph was taken at sunset.
Canada Post prepared a special stamp to be issued in the event of a Canadian gold medal being awarded during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. The design, by Naomi Broudo and Violet Finvers at Tandem Design, was kept under wraps until its release when Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s moguls event in Vancouver. For an organization that is used to dealing with multi-decade to century milestones, the notion of commemorating an event within 24 hours of its occurrence came with its own set of challenges. “Once the gold medal was won, we had to act fast,” Phillips notes. “The stamps had been waiting in our Ottawa warehouse, and our hope was to have them available in Vancouver and as many Canadian post offices as possible within 24 to 48 hours. We also had to take into account the hometown of the winning athlete(s), where we knew the demand would be particularly high.”
The stamp showcases a Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medal. “The medal is so unique that it posed certain design challenges,” says Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. “When you look at it from the front, it’s a perfect circle; you lose some of its defining features, like the wavy shape. So we decided to feature a photograph of the medal hanging, with the ribbon bleeding off the top. This approach felt the most natural.”
Signals Design Group were responsible for the final set, associated with the Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony, aiming to create a visual that could represent both the experience and memory of that emotion. Inspiration for the design was derived from the Olympic Movement’s core goal: “To contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic Spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” Leduc explains, “The designers wanted to reflect this spirit through the reaction in the eyes and faces of Canadian youth. Their idea was that we, as Canadians, have our own unique way of celebrating, supporting and displaying our national pride; it doesn’t necessarily include marching bands and balloons. It’s often more subtle. It’s commonplace to see young Canadians in toques and painted faces cheering on their favourite teams and athletes. And the iconic maple leaf, along with the red and white colour scheme, tell the viewer immediately that this is a Canadian event.”
The backgrounds of the two stamps feature photographs of four events: men’s four-man bobsleigh, women’s cross-country sprint, men’s short track relay speed skating, and Canadian cross-country skier Chandra Crawford as she accepts her gold medal at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Italy. “The designers chose these particular images from hundreds of contenders because they contained gender representation, individual and team events, colour, form, and energy,” Leduc notes.