First Day Cover

London-based Hat-trick Design created a new set of stamps for Royal Mail to mark the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Hat-trick Design's Olympic Stamps for The Royal Mail

Hat-trick Design’s Olympic Stamps for The Royal Mail

The stamps feature iconic London landmarks blended with Olympic sports to celebrate both the sport and the landmarks of London.

According to Hat-trick’s Gareth Howat, the pictured athletes are all elite members of the British team, and are all due to compete. However, Howat added that the designers had to make sure that the athletes were not individually recognisable. “It was important that these [designs] are not just GB specific, but rather about the sports themselves,” explained Howat. “However we wanted to make sure that the sports are represented properly by shooting real athletes in action.”

According to Howat, one of the trickiest designs was the fencing and Tower Bridge stamp. “To get the precise angle for both shots was very difficult to work out,” he explained. “We had to shoot the athletes first, and we had to make sure that we listened carefully to their advice about making sure the technical side of the sport was represented correctly: the right angle of attack for the lunge was shot over and over to make sure we had the right angle and exact form of the fencer and her arm.  Once we had got that, it then was a case of briefing the architectural photographer to shoot Tower Bridge from the correct angle so they ‘joined’. The photographers did a great job and were very patient.”

The idea of fusing London landmarks and the sports was an idea Hat-trick had from the very start. “We looked at lots of ways of doing this – but this one was the most successful,” said Howat. “It’s simple and works at a small scale, which is crucial with such a small space to design for. We came up with lots of ideas and variations, and it was a case of working with the team at Royal Mail to narrow those down and edit.”

“Overall it’s a long process, so you have to keep your enthusiasm going and keep a clear idea in your head of what you want the outcome to be. The lead times for creating stamps are very long  – in total this project took around 15 months from start to finish. The amount of work and detailing that goes into these is amazing.”

“Obviously as a London based design agency winning this project was a once in a lifetime opportunity and hugely exciting,” added Howat. “One of the really cool things we did was to go up in a helicopter above the Olympic stadium to get just the right angle – it was great to see it from the air. The main thing that struck me though was how great the athletes were to work with – they were all really down to earth and helpful.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson said of the stamps: ‘Even fleet-footed Hermes himself would hang up his winged sandals and send his letters through Royal Mail if he saw the quality of these beautiful Olympics-themed stamps.’
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