The Miles Davis Stamp: Notes On A Design

I am so happy to have stumbled upon this terrific column by Greg Breeding over at Story Matters. Breeding is Creative Director of Journey Group, a creative firm that specializes in design, publishing, content, and just being all-around super creative.

Breeding writes about his recent assignment to design the stamps commemorating both Miles Davis and Edith Piaf, joint issuance between the United States Postal Service and the French La Poste. We’ve been excited about the stamp from the moment we posted the news a few weeks back. And now we have the opportunity to appreciate the design process that produced both stamps.

Here are a two excerpts from Breeding’s excellent story about his design experience with the Miles Davis stamp:

But I became almost instantly bored with the idea of portraiture, and my sketching made me wonder if there were a way to capture Miles and Edith performing. It was then that I remembered an iconic image of Miles playing his trumpet from the early 1960s, and — thanks to our friends from Google — I had the image on my desktop in moments.

To be perfectly honest, once the idea of using this iconic image came to mind, I tossed the sketchbook aside.

I was struck by the way Miles often leaned back while playing the trumpet and the way Edith used her body and hands to express her voice. I picked up my sketchbook again to explore how I could make use of their unique body language, to see if some visual organization could emerge. To my delight, pencil strokes helped me discover a simple parallel structure to hold these disparate figures together.


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