The layout concept chosen for this project owes a debt of gratitude to Andy Warhol (1928 –1987). His famous stamp-like poster of 25 colored Marilyns (1962) made me conscious of the impact that repeated images can have. Like his iconographic image of the label of a can of soup, Warhol's images of Marilyn Monroe are larger than the sheet of stamps that they suggest. I, however, decided to keep my images at stamp size, and to alter the rows instead of the individual "stamps." That is my "value added" to the concept.
The original poster stamps were intended to be torn off from the sheet along the perf lines, glued to letters, and/or collected individually in albums. The closest equivalent today is, perhaps, the ubiquitous die-cut, self-adhesive sticker. My poster stamps are old-fashioned. They are printed on gummed paper with perf lines like poster stamps. They are, however, designed to be viewed like Warhol's, as a whole sheet.
The stamps are printed on high-quality glossy white, water-activated gummed paper. The sheets are separated into individual stamps using a line perforation machine that produces 11.5 perforation holes every two centimeters. The perforations extend from edge to edge. The printer's placement technique has been optimized so as to create precise corner holes, avoiding "odd crossings," in as far as possible. An unexpected added extra for this project is that the Cinderella stamp printer I engaged to produce the stamps is located in Berlin. That gives them a greater sense of authenticity than they would have if they were printed somewhere else.
The hard part about designing postage-stamp-sized art is creating an image that is recognizable when it is that small. This is a medium where the silhouette of the design takes precedence over individual lines. Because the viewer has to be familiar with the shapes used in the design, the artist has to carefully consider his target audience. For those who never served with the US forces in Berlin some of the shapes will be incomprehensible. The shoulder patch for Berlin Brigade, for example, is used in two of the stamps, and unless the viewer has seen it before, it will not be recognizable in miniature. I, therefore, have created a four-color, tri-fold brochure that explains the art for those who were never in Berlin. There will eventually come a time when Warhol's poster of 25 colored Marilyns will need a similar explanation so that the viewer can relate to the woman pictured on the poster, but the explanation will never be as good as the one that Warhol could have written himself. For those who doubt that: who was the woman in Vermeer's painting "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" (1665)? I've tried to avoid that "knowledge gap" by producing the brochure that will accompany each sheet of stamps.