In June on 1967, an icon was born. Measuring just a couple of centimetres high, this image has been printed more than 220 billion times and is responsible for representing Britain in the corner of envelopes throughout every corner of the world. This image is, of course Arnolds Machin's definitive.
Whilst at Atelier Works, we were tasked by the Royal Mail to produce a set of six stamps that celebrated the meticulous process that Arnold Machin went through in creating a stamp design that is still being used 50 years later.
A great deal of research led us to narrow down key pivotol moments in Machin's process. Machin, who was a sculptor by trade, took him from the initial brief to the final result. As each of these moments had amazing imagery associated with them, it was only right to make these images the hero.
What we ended up with, through a good process of iteration and exploration, was essentially a time line in miniature.
As we were celebrating a classic piece of scultpural history, we not so subtly suggested to the Royal Mail that the definitive head on each stamp should be embossed.
As with most stamp designs the process also involves producing a 'minisheet' - whish is a decorative sheet of paper that the stamps are perforated.
The design is used as space to help explain Machin's design process and offers up another visually interesting moment in the story.
Each stamp issue normally involves two cancellation marks: one from a relevant town (in this case High Wycombe) and one from Talents House in Edinburgh.
High Wycombe was selected due to its relevance to the print testing that Machin under took with Harrison & Sons, who were based in the town. The illustration on the mark depicts the Queen's head design being printed on a print roller.
The Talents House design celebrates the tools that Machin would have used to have drawn his sketches and create his bas-reliefs.
For each commemorative stamp issue, the Royal Mail usually releases a set of products and collectables that aid in telling the story in a lot more detail.
The Presentation back is a standard portrait design that fold down to a DL size.
The copy, supplied by someone from the Postal Museum, talks through the design process, from the early Wildling photographs all the way to the lighting experiments that Machin underwent in order to obtain highlight and shadows just perfectly.
We decided that the casts that Machin made should be the heroes, and everything else acting almost as a footnote to the story.
Royal Mail also had a minisheet celebrating the varying stamp designs in which Machin's definitive has appeared throughout the five decades, with an additional gold embossed £1 stamp.
Additionally, we were asked to look in to the design of the minisheet and the minisheet holder. We very simply allowed the layout of the minisheet to dictate the content of the holder.
The Royal Mail also wish to celebrate Machin's work on the commemorative head by replacing the standard dressed head on the Post&Go stamps.
We were asked to look at a set of colour options for these stamps.
Taking the colours that were used from the original 1967 issue was the best way to commemorate both the work Machin did on press and the golden anniversary event. It also created an interesting dialogue between the classic set and this contemporary form of postage stamps.
There were also additional products for this issue including another Filler Card and this Presentation Card which on the front visually explains the colourisation of the stamp design, whilst the reverse explains the design story of the commemorative head.
As Machin was also involved with the head on the Royal Mint's decimal coin, the Royal Mail and the Royal Mint released a limited edition medal with both of his head designs on either side.
Furthermore, as this was a joint project between the two organisations the style could be a little laxer,. However, we wanted to keep the relationship been this product and the other stamp based Machin products.
Again, by making the two protagonists in the story - the stamp and the coin, take centre stage, it allowed the other images to be used as footnotes to the dialogue.