Flying High: Creating the Flags of Our Nation Stamps

In his long and decorated career, artist Tom Engeman has worked on a wide variety of projects for the U.S. Postal Service. Perhaps none has been as expansive as Flags of Our Nation. The series began in 2008 and includes 60 stamps, each of which honors an American state or United States territory.

During the creative process, Engeman and art director Howard E. Paine made a conscious effort to avoid imagery commonly associated with each state. (There was one requirement: Each stamp had to contain the state flag.) “We didn’t want to do famous bridges or buildings,” Engeman said. “We didn’t want to do what everybody else did. We wanted a slice of life.”

That approach is apparent in the newest and final Flags of Our Nation stamps. Set 6, which was issued on August 16, includes Texas, Utah, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and also a stamp featuring the American flag.

Engeman had fun developing all ten stamps in the sixth set, but he has a few favorites:

Utah, which features a cactus in bloom and a highly stylized arch formation: “Utah’s my favorite. I just really love the cactus and the desert. The colors work, the pictures work.”

Washington, which features the state’s evergreen forests: “I hand drew each one of the limbs on those trees. I love the way they turned out.”

Wisconsin, which features dairy cattle: “The cows were fun. It’s hard to draw cows, actually. Animals are not easy to draw.”

Overall, Engeman loved collaborating on these stamps. “I participated in the adventure,” he said. Now you can, too! The Flags of Our Nation Forever® stamps are available for purchase in the online Postal Store and in Post Offices nationwide.

A great educational tool, this colorful 36 x 24 giclée print showcases all the stamps from the U.S. Postal Service Flags of Our Nation series. (Click image to order.)

Are you a fan of Engeman’s style? Flags of Our Nation isn’t the artist’s only 2012 issuance. Engeman also created the Baltimore Checkerspot (Butterfly) stamp artwork.