So he designed a charming half-dozen self-adhesive “Animail” stamps in the shapes of cheerful little creatures, which include a woodpecker, snake, chimpanzee, bat, orangutan, and koala bears. The die-cut stamps set the animals free from the cage of a standard rectangular stamp template, allowing their respective hands, feet, or tails to be folded over the edges of the envelope, as if they are clinging to it for dear life.
“We were looking to design something which emphasised what makes sending and receiving a piece of post so special,” Ross told me in an email. “To the best of our knowledge there hasn’t been a stamp which wraps around an envelope before. The thought of a simple fold in a piece of paper bringing the creature printed on it to life appealed to us; we thought that this was an idea which would appeal to children and would achieve something which e-mail and texting couldn’t do.”
Ross said they tried “a lot of variants” before settling on the final roster of animals—six stamps that had variety of colors, shapes, and types of animals. “Not too many birds nor too many mammals,” Ross said. “This ruled out several creatures which may have been liked but didn’t make up a coherent set, either for colour reasons or because we had too many hanging from the top of the envelope and not enough clinging to the side.”
Once they decided on which critters to feature, they worked over the designs “to conform with the technical requirements of a stamp,” Ross said, “how far down the stamp should be on an envelope, how far in, which colours to use to enable a good phosphor reading for sorting. This required sending trial stamps through the system and resulted in several stages of adjustment.”
The playful stamps make a nice change from standard rectangular Royal Mail stamps plastered with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, though the Royal Mail notes in a press release that “Her Majesty the Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are printed.”