To create the US Postal Service’s commemorative stamps, a tradition dating back to 1893, stamp art directors hire artists whose work matches their vision. For the Jimi Hendrix stamp, issued on March 13 as part of the Music Icon series, the USPS selected Rudy Gutierrez, adjunct instructor of Illustration, a painter known for his work in magazines, book and album covers, and children’s books. Gutierrez talks about his process in this video and reveals himself to be a major Hendrix fan.
“Obviously we’re talking about a postage stamp here,” he says in the video. “I have to control certain aspects of it so that when it reduces way down, it can be visual enough. So I might have to flatten out some areas, simplify it a bit, and constantly be aware that it’s coming way down.”
In terms of the content, Gutierrez tried to represent Hendrix’s beliefs and ideas. “I have these icons that are going around him,” he says. “And so we have everything from petroglyph-looking things to spaceships. And that’s really what he was about: the ancient, the futuristic, and everything else that’s swirling around.”