Many late nights of work spent obsessing over tiny lines and dots will culminate on July 23 when the U.S. Postal Service releases four new designs of its Forever stamps, all illustrated by Ryan Feerer, associate professor of design, director of the graphic design program and designer in residence at Abilene Christian University.
Feerer was tasked with illustrating the four new USPS stamps with the theme of “Western Wear.” The designs he created include a boot, a pearl snap shirt, a belt buckle and a cowboy hat.
“I cannot explain to you how excited I am to share the stamps with the world,” Feerer said. “I feel a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.”
After graduating from ACU in 2005, Feerer earned his Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. One of his professors there, Gail Anderson, served on the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee for the USPS and recommended Feerer for the project. When it was officially offered, accepting the task didn’t require much deliberation.
“I responded within seconds,” Feerer said. “Creating stamp art was a dream opportunity I never thought I would be able to do. I was ecstatic but a little nervous that it might fall through because of how significant it was.”
Selecting four iconic pieces of western wear came quickly, but deciding how best to portray them and executing the design spanned 2 1/2 years and occupied much of his mental attention and time. In addition to the primary images, Feerer incorporated small plants, animals, western-inspired flourishes, the sun, and other related elements to frame each clothing illustration.
“I had never created something so delicate and small. I instantly became obsessed with every detail. I tried to be strategic in the placement of every dot and stroke of each line,” he said. “I would often find myself up late into the morning hours, not realizing how much time had passed. The result was pages and pages of stamp variations that I was constantly studying and comparing. It was overwhelming at times but in a fun way. This project is probably the most significant thing I will ever work on, and I wanted each stamp to live up to that.”
That’s saying a lot since Feerer’s illustration experience includes logos, album covers and projects for brands like Fossil, Etsy, Snapchat, Academy Sports and Outdoors, and Target. Locally, he’s the artist behind the logos for many businesses, restaurants and Allen Ridge, a shopping center named for a family of early Texas settlers.
“The USPS releases less than 40 new stamps every year, and I was fortunate enough to design four of them with a run of 175 million,” he said. “To me, that is mind blowing.”
Once they’re available, Feerer plans to use the stamps to send mail to his wife, kids and parents first, followed by any mail he can think of to other family and friends.
The first day of issue will be in Abilene on July 23. The stamps can be preordered here.
— Wendy Kilmer
July 5, 2021