Mexican Artist Collaborates With USPS to Create Piñata-Themed Stamps
If you’re a lover of stamps and mail, then you’re about to get a burst of cultura in your mailbox all thanks to West Seattle-based artist, designer and muralist Victor Meléndez.
Throughout his career, he was the creative force behind several top brands, including Starbucks and the Seattle Seahawks. His most recent opportunity is a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service to release a piñata-themed stamp set to celebrate Mexican culture.
According to the USPS website, the new booklet contains 20 colorful and vibrant stamps highlighting the piñata. The festive collection is being released on Sept. 8 by the federal government agency. Meléndez says the traditional favorite is a cultural staple from his childhood in Mexico City.
“I’ve never not been involved with the piñata,” Meléndez told the Seattle Times. “I grew up in Mexico, so ever since I remember, there were piñatas.”
A seven-pointed star and a donkey piñata are two of Meléndez’s designs in the upcoming collection. These selections are among the 31 stamps released this year. If you’re familiar with piñatas, you know how eager children were to swing at the decorative container until the candy drops to the ground.
“Everyone is paying attention when the piñata is out,” he said. “There’s anticipation, and then finally, the reveal of that candy and confetti. I wanted to show that movement and vibrancy and life.”
More than 30,000 stamp suggestions are received annually
Choosing a theme for U.S. postal stamps is a process, with many submissions issued every year. According to The Seattle Times, the postmaster general appoints the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to filter through thousands of topics and subjects to be featured on the thumb-sized artwork.
After selecting a theme, an art director works alongside the artist to bring the creative vision to life. Consequently, it takes around two to three years to complete the production process.
Art Director Antonio Alcalá has worked on several themes for the postal service, including Meléndez’s latest creations.
He said the artist’s work displays the “spirit of Mexican culture” while spreading awareness about Latinos and their cultural backgrounds.
“I wasn’t looking for perfectly rendered architectural renderings of what a piñata looks like,” Alcalá said. “It needed to have a certain feel and a festiveness that I thought his drawings brought, but also an awareness of Latino culture.”
Albert Ruiz, PR Representative for the stamp collection, revealed information about the federal agency using Hispanic-themed stamps in the past.
“This is the third consecutive year the Postal Service has issued a Hispanic-themed stamp. In September 2021, USPS issued Day of the Dead stamps, and in July 2022, USPS issued Mariachi stamps,” he told mitú.
Meléndez re-imagined Starbucks’ classic siren logo for its 25th anniversary
Meléndez worked as a graphic designer during his 10-year stint with the coffee chain. From reintroducing the new logo to working on the visuals for the whole bean roast packaging, the Seattle resident’s artistic portfolio shows he’s no stranger to creativity.
He began as an intern for the company and continuously climbed the ladder as he later became the principal designer. “That’s where I learned everything,” Meléndez said as he reflected on his time with the company.
In 2018, the Starbucks location in Tec de Monterrey in Santa Fe unveiled a mural Meléndez created for the establishment in Mexico City.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my pals at Múric, the peeps from the Miami Store Design and Starbucks México,” Meléndez said, according to a Facebook post from Starbucks’ official page.
Besides Starbucks and the postal service, Meléndez has collaborated with REI, T-Mobile, Facebook, Crayola and more.
The Seattle creator’s stamp collection is now part of ‘history’
Robynne Raye, co-founder of Seattle’s Modern Dog Design Company, studied graphic design with Meléndez at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. As she reflected on his artwork, Raye said she knew Meléndez would become “famous” at some point in his life.
“I actually felt like he was going to be famous. There was something about his drive, his tenacity in work that he just had this something special about him,” Raye explained to the Times.
Now, Meléndez’s designs will be featured on stamps used nationwide. The opportunity is something Raye says would heighten the artist’s career.
“It’s beyond Seattle. I can’t think of a bigger audience than a stamp for a designer or an illustrator. It’s something that people pay attention to. He’s now part of history,” she said.
Meléndez’s work will be featured this month at several events, including Seattle’s MexAm NW Festival celebrating Latino culture.
“You can definitely see Mexico in there, and then you can definitely see the Pacific Northwest. That’s a perfect bicultural celebration, which is what we were aiming for,” Karla Nahmmacher, Consulate Director of Cultural Affairs, said.
Lastly, Meléndez said he would love to create posters for one the biggest rock bands that originated in Seattle.
“My big dream [is] to do a poster for Pearl Jam. They’re my favorite band,” he said.
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