There's a particular shade of orange in this year's NHL All-Stars stamp set that hockey fans will recognize as authentic. It's the exact colour specified and approved by the National Hockey League for its trademark shield logo. "We could have created that shade using standard process colours," says Alain Leduc, Design Manager, Stamp Design. "But given the fine lines in the shield, it would have been very difficult to register the colour precisely, to prevent blurring."
Precision is a priority for Canada Post's stamp design team. This year, the NHL All-Stars stamp series enters its fifth year, honouring another six legendary players of the past: Johnny Bower, Larry Robinson, Marcel Dionne, Ted Lindsay, Milt Schmidt, and Brad Park. Each player is portrayed on a domestic rate (49¢) stamp in an instantly recognizable action image. This is the result of an exacting artistic process.
Throughout the series, stamp images have been based on an artist's illustration of each player, always in on-ice action poses. "These players have been photographed many times, but some of the photos are very old," says Leduc. "We chose to use painted illustrations instead, as a means of equalizing quality through the series."
However, Leduc emphasizes, "It's very important to recognize the face of each player at stamp size." When an image is reduced, distortions can occur. To ensure the best possible likeness in miniature, an enlarged photograph of the player's face is pasted onto the illustration and painted in.
Charles Vinh has painted all the stamp illustrations since the second year of the series, so the style has remained consistent. The stamps have retained a consistent look, too, due to the puck-like band that always encircles the players' images. It's particularly eye-catching this year, printed in silver metallic ink.
Portraits of each player appear alongside the stamps on the pane of six, but these were created through less traditional means. Based entirely on original photographs, the portraits were heavily retouched on a computer by digital artist Pierre Rousseau, who has often added colour to black-and-white photos, and even changed the shade of a jersey. "He's created these portraits to look as though they'd all been taken by the same photographer," says Leduc.
Stamp designer Stéphane Huot also designed the folder for the souvenir sheet, which reveals the players' portraits while protecting the stamps. With its LED-style lettering, it replicates the look of a big-league scoreboard and the black messaging ribbon that appears at seat level in many NHL arenas.
This souvenir stamp set is being released just in time for this year's NHL All-Star game on February 8, 2004. It's sure to give hockey lovers an authentic experience-the thrill of entering the arena just in time for the pre-game warm-up.