WITH THE HOLIDAY SEASON fast approaching, the U.S. Postal Service issued a new Kwanzaa stamp featuring artwork by Andrea Pippins. The Forever stamp was dedicated on Oct. 13.

Pippins offers a contemporary take on the traditional African American holiday established in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies. Working with a largely blue-green palette, Pippins centers a Black female in profile with a hoop earring, close-cropped hair, and a crown-like corona surrounding her head. A kinara holding red, black, and green candles completes the image.

In a statement about the new stamp, Dane Coleman, USPS Regional Processing Operations Eastern Vice President, said the design was hand-sketched and digitally colored.

“This new Kwanzaa stamp captures the essence of the African American cultural celebration” and “evokes a sense of inner peace with its cool tones and vibrant design elements to give a festive feel to the celebration of Kwanzaa,” Coleman said.

“This new Kwanzaa stamp captures the essence of the African American cultural celebration” and “evokes a sense of inner peace with its cool tones and vibrant design elements.” – Dane Coleman, USPS

Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means “first,” symbolizing the first fruits of the harvest. The Pan-African celebration emphasizes family, community, and culture and is based on seven principles: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Each candle in the kinara represents one of the principles. Kwanzaa occurs over seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Pippins illustrated the eighth Kwanzaa stamp issued by the Postal Service. The first was released in 1997 and new designs followed in 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2018. Synthia Saint James illustrated the first commemorative Kwanzaa stamp in 1997 and nearly 20 years later created artwork for the 2016 edition. Artist Floyd Cooper was commissioned for the 2018 stamp.

A designer, illustrator, author, and educator, Pippins grew up in Maryland. She taught graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art and gained an international following when she started a blog called Fly in 2006. Pippins has worked at TV Land and Hallmark Cards and collaborated with Bloomberg, ESPN, The High Line, Lincoln Center, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.

“A big dream became reality!! Creating art for a United States Postal Stamp was a career bucket list wish for me.” — Andrea Pippins

On Instagram, Pippins said designing a postage stamp was one of her career goals. “A big dream became reality!! Creating art for a United States Postal Stamp was a career bucket list wish for me, two years ago it happened—and here we are,” she wrote.

Pippins added that the opportunity was made possible because someone pushed for her selection: “This opportunity happened because someone behind the scenes was advocating for me to design a stamp, without me even knowing. It is a reminder to keep going, keep doing the work because we never ever know who is paying attention and who wants to see us rise.” CT

 

FIND MORE about Andrea Pippins on her website

READ MORE about Pippins in an interview with BMoreArt

 

BOOKSHELF
Andrea Pippins authored “I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos,” “Becoming Me: A Work in Progress: Color, Journal & Brainstorm Your Way to a Creative Life,” “Hey, Baby!: A Baby’s Day in Doodles,” and “Who Will You Be?” Pippins has also collaborated with Jamia Wilson, illustrating several volumes including “Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present” and “Big Ideas For Young Thinkers: 20 questions about life and the universe.” Forthcoming in 2021, Pippins illustrated “Little Yogi Deck: Simple Yoga Practices to Help Kids Move Through Big Emotions,” a a project with Crystal McCreary.

 

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