Two remarkable aspects of the institute distinguished it from the outset. First, Pratt was one of the earliest colleges in the country open to all, regardless of their social class, race or gender. Second, Pratt considered drawing, whether freehand, mechanical, or architectural, a universal language, thus all programs in the school had a strong drawing foundation. As a result of these aspects, and the schools longevity, Pratt alumni have influenced every aspect of American art and culture, including stamp design.
What follows is a chronological survey of some of the luminaries of stamp design who received degrees from Pratt Institute, with examples highlighting the diverse breadth and depth of their talents. Together these graphic designers, illustrators and educators have nearly 200 postage stamps to their credit.
Scott 1682, Reed design
Walt Reed (1917-2015) Walt Reed was noted artist, author and art historian who studied illustration and graduated from Pratt Institute. He wrote extensively about the art of illustration. He designed the epic American Bicentennial: State Flags series, a 50-stamp sheet.
Scott 2760–2764, Seidler design
Ned M. Seidler (1922–2007) Ned M. Seidler was a gifted illustrator with a special talent for his detailed nature paintings. Of the 39 United States Postal Service (USPS) stamps credited to Seidler, the subject of most is flora and fauna. Seidler painted a very popular series: the 1993–96 Garden Flowers, booklet panes of five stamps issued for the four seasons, a total of 20 stamps. His stamp career was something of a greenhouse, abundant with Coral Pink Rose, Apple & Orange, Fruit Berries, American Holly and Holiday Evergreens, to name just a few.
Scott 1431, Koslow design
Howard Koslow (1924–2016) Howard Koslow enjoyed a vibrant art career that included 40 stamp issues for the USPS. He created stamps celebrating music legends (Jazz singers), pilot Harriet Quimby, landmarks such as Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Carnegie Hall; government the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court, and the Antarctic Treaty, not once, but twice. But the gifted Koslow is most widely known for his enormously popular Lighthouses, which began as a five stamp booklet issued in 1990 and recently issued its sixth series, now a totally incredible 30 lighthouse stamps.
Scott C76, Calle design
Paul Calle (1928–2010) With his stamp designs, Paul Calle chronicled some of our nation’s most important events and people - none perhaps more significant than the 1969 issue commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing. Other designs concentrated on people: General Douglas MacArthur, artist Frederic Remington, poet Robert Frost, and a very popular set of carousel animals issued in two booklets. Calle produced over 40 stamps for the United States and collaborated with his son Chris Calle on a set of two U.S. stamps for the 25th anniversary of the moon landing, as well as other designs for Sweden, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the United Nations.
Mort Künstler (1931–) Mort Künstler began his illustration career in magazine publishing. Working with National Geographic, he developed a reputation for both his artistry and historical accuracy, with a concentration in Civil War artwork. This background made him the ideal artist to paint the illustration for the 1994 Buffalo Soldiers commemorative.
Scott 4699, McMullan design
James McMullan (1934–) James McMullan has spent his career literally in the spotlight, having created highly visible posters for cultural institutions such as Lincoln Center, and countless illustrations for magazines and newspapers including a long running series in The New York Times. That made McMullan a natural choice to create the artwork celebrating Innovative Choreographers for the four stamp set issued in 2012.
Mexico Scott C344, Wyman design
Lance Wyman (1937–) Designer Lance Wyman graduated Pratt having studied Industrial Design. His career rocketed to prominence with his iconic and influential design for the 1968 Olympic Games logo. He designed an incredible 39 stamps for Mexico, 15 leading up to and celebrating the 1968 Olympics. Mexico issued the first stamp honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Wyman design. In 1972 Wyman designed a set of four stamps for the United States celebrating the Olympic Winter Games.
Scott 1527, Max design
Peter Max (1937–) Artist Peter Max is synonymous with the psychedelic era of the 1960s. His late 1968s television commercials for 7-Up had a broad and lasting impact on American culture. Max’s Expo ’74 stamp features the sun, sky, sea and earth being traversed by a ‘Cosmic Jumper’ in his signature style and electrifying color palette.
Scott 3359, Nikosey design
Tom Nikosey (1951–) Designer and illustrator Tom Nikosey has created art for a wide range of quintessential American institutions, musicians and brands. His colorful “Holiday Deer” stamp, based on a stylized 1930s printer’s cut, are considered one of the most popular USPS stamps, while the American Buffalo stamp pulses with electrifying color, radiating a proud power, like the animal itself. He has also created sophisticated typographic art for several stamp sheets.
Scott 3546, Cusack design
Margaret Cusack (1945–) Margaret Cusack is an illustrator and folk artist, working exclusively in “realism created with stitchery and fabric.” Although she claims to not sew a buttonhole, hem or zipper, she created the heartwarming artwork for the “We Give Thanks” stamp entirely in fabric. She is also the author of “Picture Your World in Appliqué.”
Scott 3152, Deas design
Michael Deas (1956–) Artist Michael Deas has designed 21 stamps, all portraits of some of the most recognizable figures in American culture and history; Presidents, explorers, writers, and actors Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. He is also a specialist on Edgar Allan Poe and created a portrait for an issue honoring him. Deas even included the fictional Blanche Du Bois riding a street car (named Desire) in the background of his design for the Tennessee Williams commemorative.
Scott 3782, Baker design
Garin Baker (1961–) Garin Baker is a noted realist painter, who captured the dramatic atmosphere of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase, while also featuring the document and a map within his complex composition.
Scott 3939, Rodriguez design
Edel Rodriguez (1971–) The artwork of Cuban-born Edel Rodriguez is infused with bold graphics and pop culture. “Let’s Dance/Bailemos (Cha-cha-cha)” is a four stamp series that joyfully captures the energy, passion of the Cha-cha-cha, Mambo, Merengue and salsa dances.
Scott 4465–4466, Nelson design
Kadir Nelson (1974–) Subjects for the twelve stamps designed by Kadir Nelson thus far include literature, activism, and sports, many with an emphasis on celebrating Black Heritage. His four stamp set Major League Baseball All-Stars featured hall of famers Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Willie Stargell, and Ted Williams. His Negro Leagues Baseball scene was issued se-tenant, and the two stamps commemorating basketball star Wilt Chamberlain are notably taller than average stamps. He has illustrated over 20 children’s books including We Are the Ship, Ellington Was Not a Street, Henry’s Freedom Box, and Just the Two of Us.
Scott 4880, Gutierrez design
Rudy Gutierrez (1957–) Illustrator Rudy Gutierrez is the newest addition to the roster of Pratt stamp designers. Gutierrez is a talented musician, making him an ideal choice to illustrate the recent psychedelic-influenced Jimi Hendrix stamp. He is also a recipient of the school’s Distinguished Teacher Award, given to a Pratt professor of outstanding merit.
Pratt Institute has also had a number of professors educated elsewhere, with stamp designs to their credit.
Scott 4718, Drer design
Michael Dyer (1977–) designed what art director Antonio Alcala called “the first completely abstract [stamp] designs” released by the U.S. Postal Service, the 2012 “wave” high-value definitives as well as two successor values in the series. He also designed the red and blue 2016 World Stamp Expo commemoratives.
Scott 4349, Bartalos design
Michael Bartalos (1969–) collected stamps in his youth, and later earned his BFA at Pratt and his MFA at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. His work has been featured on the Marathon commemorative as well as one celebrating Latin Jazz.
Scott 1119, Goslin design
Charles Goslin (1932–2007) was a professor of graphic design and illustration at Pratt, beginning in 1966 until his death in 2007. Early in his career, he worked in the studio of designer Lester Beall. During that time Goslin designed the Freedom of the Press stamp, a powerful early example of modernism on a U.S. postage stamp.