Olympics Special – Stamps Feature

Last week, ArtZine explored the function of artists in society as we were inspired by Olympic Arts. Read about it here. This week, we take a look at artwork on Olympic Stamps.


Faces of proud olympians adorned their country’s stamps – gold medalists, no doubt. Their proudest moment captured on collectors’ stamps, to be kept for eternity. As winners from the Beijing Olympics 2008 are honoured on commemorative Olympic Stamps, ArtZine delves into the various artwork and styles of Olympic Stamps in the history of the Games.

Over the weekend, an Olympic Stamp Exhibit in China showcased various stamps commemorating the Games. The main function of Olympic Stamps is to salute the country’s athletes. Australia is well-known for printing stamps featuring their gold-medalists the day after the medal was won. Australia’s most celebrated swimmer, Stephanie Rice, was commemorated with her set of stamps on Aug 12. (left) The latest stamp features backstroke swimmer Emily Seebohm, who won the gold on Aug 18.

Take a look at the Olympic Stamps issued and the different artworks.


America’s Olympic Stamps ’08
USA issued a single stamp that doesn’t make any reference to Beijing. (excludes the Beijing Olympics Logo) Designed by American-chinese Clarence Lee, this 42c value features a gymnast surrounded by red ribbon-like swirls. Quite fitting too, as USA won the gold and silver medals in women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics.

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Jamaica’s Olympic Stamps ’08
Unlike Australia, who celebrates the current gold medalists, Jamaica salutes its successes at Athens ’04. The usage of Chinese symbols nod to the Beijing Olympics.

The gold 4 x 100m relay team is depicted alongside a bamboo and dragon on $30 values while 200m gold winner Veronica Campbell-Brown is on the $60 stamp accompanied by lanterns. You’d recognise two of them as the gold and silver medalists of this year’s 100m.

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Portugal’s Olympic Stamps ’08
Portugal released eye-catching stamps that sets itself apart from other portraitures and evolves away from the Classical style that dominated the Olympic stamps of the 90’s.

Colour blocks collaged against silhouetted athletes – a way of inspiring its athletes to strive to be that athlete depicted and do their best at the Olympics.

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Aland’s Olympic Stamps ’08
Where is Aland? Check it out on the world map here. Aland sent its third Olympian to the Beijing Olympics. If you thought that stamps are always rectangular, Aland’s triangular stamp proves you wrong! Defying the norms, Juha Pykalainen’s cheerful triangle will definitely get philatelics rushing to add it in their collection of Olympic Stamps.

Juha used the fellowship of the Olympics as inspiration and the stamp portrays many happy faces from all around the world. Simple does it.

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San Marino’s Olympic Stamps ’08
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino (I’m not kidding, that’s the full name) is surrounded by Italy. See where it is on the World Map here.

Unlike the portuguese representation of athletes as silhouettes, San Marino chose to illustrate their swimmers and fencers in white on a sky-blue background, which recalls the San Marino flag. The portugal stamps used dotted lines to represent movement whereas the San Marino stamps uses thin white lines as movement lines.

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Slovenia’s Olympic Stamps ’08
Designed by Matjaz Ucakar, these two stamps issued by Slovenia feature the same stylistic look used in the Beijing Olympics Logo. Athletes have been reduced to mere white curves and a circle for a head.

In the background are sihouettes of temples and chinese script, which nods to the Beijing Games.
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And finally… Singapore’s Olympic Stamps ’08!

Designed by Kareen Teoh, these four stamps picture the sports Singapore intend to excel in: shooting, badminton, table tennis and sailing. Dark silhouettes of athletes against a stark contrast of the white background of the stamps makes the stamps quite glaring. Compared to the Portuguese stamps who too employed the silhouettes, the Singapore stamps look bleak, uninspiring and dark.

Where is the cheerful Singapore spirit?

The chinese terms of each sport also adorn each stamp, as a nod to the Beijing Olympics. Here’s what the pre-cancelled first day cover with affixed stamps looks like:

ThinkThots: Will Singapore follow in Australia’s footsteps and publish a special set of stamps to commemorate Singapore’s first silver in 48 years? How would you design the stamps?

ThinkThots: With our mails sent over the Internet without charges, when will snail mail and stamps be rendered useless? Do you think there’ll be a day when we will be charged for each email we send out?

ThinkThots: How would you design the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games stamps?

Designers, check out ArtZine‘s article on the Singapore 2010 design competition! Read about it here.

– Valerie Oliveiro

Images from SingPost.sg and StampNews.com

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One thought on “Olympics Special – Stamps Feature

  1. Pingback: Olympics Special - The function of Artists in Society « ArtZine

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