Christmas 2016 (Netherlands)

[press release]
The December Stamps 2016 PostNL will send a card as possible for everyone in the Christmas and New Year period to family, friends and relations at a cheap rate. The December special rate of € 0.65 per stamp this year is valid from November 14, 2016 until January 6, 2017

Issued November 14, 2016 nl_xmas2016About the design:
A sheet of 2016 December stamps contains two pages with ten stamps each and the extra December stamp. The ten illustrations on the stamps look like festive miniature stories. Each illustration refers to the festive month of December: a sleigh full of presents, a skate on wintery ice, a crystal snow globe with a snowman, squirrels collecting acorns, Christmas cookies, a Christmas tree in a cargo bicycle, mulled wine and ornaments, deczegel11rgbchampagne glasses, a woman wearing a knit cap and scarf on a cold, wintery night and a record player with cheery Christmas music. Each stamp features gradient rich, warm colours. The atmosphere on the stamps is enriched with crystal shapes each with a different function – from fireworks to snowflakes, from champagne bubbles to even the shiny reflections on the ornaments and the single on the record player. There is a certain, unique logic to each of the colours. For example, the squirrels are set in a green environment, the skate is on blue ice and the drawbridge is shown against the red evening afterglow. The background colour on the extra December stamp was taken from the same palette as the other stamps. The image is a picture of five hands spread out to make a star. This image symbolises unity and connecting people and goes nicely with the thought of using this stamp to send a card to a special person. The font used for the typography is the modern, round, friendly and modest Brauer by Philippe Desarzens of Elektrokosmos from 1999/2006, an updated version of Pierre Miedinger’s font of the same name from 1974.

Technical Specifications:
deczegel02rgb_2_1Stamp size: 25.3 x 20.8 mm
Perforation: 14½ : 14½
Paper: normal with phosphor tagging
Gum: synthetic
Printing: offset
PostNL: 4,860,000 sheetlets
Trekpleister: 130,000 sheetlets
Kruidvat: 500,000 sheetlets
Printing house: Joh. Enschedé Security Print, Haarlem
Print colors stamp: yellow, magenta, cyan and black

About the designer:
deczegel09rgb_2_1Edgar Smaling and Carlo Elias of Smel have designed stamps for PostNL before. The last ones were the 2014 December stamps. “This new assignment was a complete surprise,” Carlo says, “and of course again a great honour. PostNL asked us to build on the style we developed in 2014, but not to copy it completely. Which was a good thing, as that wouldn’t do our style justice. We also had other concepts to deal with. Ten different illustrations instead of twenty. A horizontal format instead of a vertical one. And the extra 21st stamp to surprise a special person with a Christmas greeting.” For the illustrations, Smel looked for modern subjects. Edgar: “Of course we have the classics like Christmas trees, ornaments, bells and snowflakes. But it also features contemporary images. The modern cargo bicycle used to transport children for example, with the Christmas tree in it. The comeback of the record player with the renewed interest in vinyl. The mulled wine with star anise. And the German Lebkuchen, fast gaining popularity in our country as Christmas cookies. We focused on the same principles in the selection of each subject: recognition, sharing, warmth and cosiness.” “We also revised our illustration style”, Carlo explains. “We went for a two-dimensional approach with a stronger focus on the larger picture than on finer lines. No 3D, no classic perspective, but we did create depth through a clever use of colour and layers. Look at the Magere Brug (“Skinny Bridge”) stamp. Positioning the skate on the foreground and blurring the colour of the bridge automatically creates distance. This sheetlet contains lots of dynamic images. The snow globe is tilted, because it will only snow once you shake it. The sleigh is also tilted up deczegel01rgb_2_1somewhat, a logical direction that refers to pulling the rope. The cargo bicycle is riding into the stamp, the woman is rushing along the canal houses, the champagne glasses are moving towards each other and the record on the record table is spinning. That movement is counter-balanced by the calm of the illustrations on the stamps with the mulled wine and the squirrels. That was how we brought balance to all of it. There is a similar balance in our choice of location – half of the stories are set outside and the other half is inside.” As is often the case in Smel’s work, these illustrations again contain subtle details. Edgar: “There are many different ways to depict the arm of the record player. The art is in leaving things out while still maintaining recognisability. The details are an essential part of the illustrations. Take the nostalgic triangle on the single or the mirrored squirrels, for example. Or look at the cinnamon stick in the mulled wine, next to the star anise. You can even see the lemon peel floating in the glass. The shape of the star anise is blown up in the background. It’s barely visible, but it’s there. We applied the same technique for the windmills on the back of the stamp sheetlet.” Carlo calls it “a challenge to find the right balance between what most people like and what we think is a good design. What we make is usually pert and unique. So for example, giving an unaesthetic subject like Lebkuchen its own aesthetic was quite the challenge. With all the necessary details. All stamps were designed as miniature stories on a miniature scale, but I dare say the design would have the same strength and effect if it were blown up to poster size.” About the designers The 2016 December stamp sheet was designed by Edgar Smaling and Carlo Elias, founders of Smel. Both designers studied between 1993 and 1997 at the Academy of Art and Design St. Joost in Breda. Smel, founded in 2001, consists of an energetic team of dedicated, multidisciplinary creative professionals, working for clients in government, fashion, design, art, photography and architecture. They design strategic corporate identities, magazines, books, house styles and websites. In doing so, they aim for airy shape concepts subtly connecting quality and the power of imagination. Smel provided the designs for the 2009 Summer stamps, the 125 Years of Carré stamps in 2012 and the December stamps in 2014.

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