USPS Forever stamps showcase the art of the skateboard
PHOENIX — The U. S. Postal Service unveiled its latest Forever stamps celebrating the Art of the Skateboard during a first-day-of-issue event held March 24 at the Desert West Skate Park. The dedication ceremony kicked off PHXAM 2023, an annual amateur skateboarding competition that attracts participants from around the globe. The event marked the official release of the stamps, which feature artistic skateboard decks with bold, vibrant designs that capture skateboarding’s excitement, diversity and rebellious attitude.
Appearing at the ceremony were stamp artists Crystal Worl, Di’Orr Greenwood, and Federico “MasPaz” Frum; Yassamin Ansari, Phoenix vice mayor; Cynthia Aguilar, director of Phoenix Parks and Recreation; and Trent Martin, CEO of Cowtown Skateboards.
The Art of the Skateboard stamps feature four unique designs created by skateboarders-turned-artists Worl, Greenwood, MasPaz and William James Taylor Junior, also known as Core222.
Worl’s deck has a blue and indigo salmon design expressing her Tlingit/Athabascan heritage.
“The salmon formline represents abundance to the Indigenous people of the northern Northwest Coast and I’m proud that this uniquely Alaskan symbol will be immortalized on mailpieces across the country,” she said.
Greenwood’s design represents her Navajo culture, a turquoise-inlaid skateboard that displays eagle feathers and the colors of the rising or setting sun.
When creating her deck, Greenwood said she “wanted to capture the passion and perseverance of my people.”
“It is my sincere hope that through these amazing Forever stamps I can inspire youth worldwide to strive for and achieve greatness. Ahehee (thank you) for this incredible opportunity, USPS,” she said.
Washington, D.C.-based muralist MasPaz, which translates from Spanish as “more peace,” created a design featuring the mystical jaguar of the Amazon in his unique, bold-lined style.
“Art helps me reconnect to the stories and land of my Colombian ancestors. The jaguar symbolizes the rainforest, guidance, and healing. Let her powerful call awaken all to live in peace and care for our home, Mother Earth.” he said. “I am incredibly grateful to the Postal Service for this opportunity to share the message of the jaguar across the country and worldwide.”
A striking red and orange graphic abstraction by self-taught Norfolk, Virginia artist Taylor energizes the final skateboard.
“These stamps are a celebration of the diverse and vibrant imagery, camaraderie, and athleticism of skateboarding,” said Core222, who was not able to be at the ceremony. “It was an immense honor and blessing to be a part of this project.”
Skateboard decoration has been particularly vibrant since the 1970s, when inventive skaters rode in emptied backyard swimming pools.
Advanced skaters began experimenting with gravity-defying aerial maneuvers and eventually achieved the “vert” — shooting vertically up the pool’s side and cresting over the top edge. When skateboard magazines published photographs of these radical new moves, the skaters were catapulted to idol status and the in-your-face board graphics on the decks’ undersides became part of the allure.
Today, skaters and artists, one and the same, want boards that reflect their unique style and use a variety of techniques to achieve their desired look. Whether vulgar or highbrow, the artwork often employs ancient iconography and modern forms such as graffiti art, absurd cartoons, and riffs on pop culture. Whatever the style, eye-catching deck art is ever evolving and an integral aspect of skateboarding cool.
“It’s satisfying to see the diversity of America represented by these artists,” said Antonio Alcala, an art director for USPS, who designed the stamps using photographs of skateboards held aloft by a young person, displaying the underside of the maple deck, where the artwork, wheels, and trucks all appear. The color saturation of each human model is muted to draw the eye to the skateboard itself. Stylish lines radiate from each skateboard in colors coordinated to the artwork.
The Art of the Skateboard stamps will be released in panes of 20, with 18 million copies in production. As Forever stamps, they will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.