Alumna, former professor design first scratch-and-sniff stamps

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Alumna Leslie Badani was part of the team that designed the U.S. Postal Service's line of scratch-and-sniff stamps.

The days of licking a stamp to send a letter may be gone, but a set of scratch-and-sniff stamps designed by an alumna and former professor will engage other senses.

Leslie Badani, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, helped design the U.S. Postal Service’s first set of scratch-and-sniff designs released Wednesday. The Frozen Treats Forever stamps feature brightly colored popsicles that emit scents of summertime, inspired by flavors like kiwi, watermelon and root beer.

The stamps are now sold at post offices and are priced at $10 for a set of 20 stamps.

The popsicle designs are embellished with bright summer colors, patterns and tiny sprinkles. One stamp features a bright pink and green watermelon pop and another has a plain chocolate that will make you nostalgic for the ice cream truck.

The design uses microencapsulation technology, which is used for many scratch-and-sniff products, to trap scented oils in the ink to be released with the swipe of a finger.

Badani said she worked on the stamps for eight months before the final copy was submitted to USPS. Badani began the project trying to find inspiration online and came across vibrant illustrations by Magrikie Berg, a Los Angeles-based artist.

After she contacted the artist to collaborate, Badani said her job was to take the art and scale it down to be stamp-sized.

“As a creative person, you don’t get the chance to work on a very small scale very often,” she said. “I think to design with the idea that something is going to be extremely tiny changes your viewpoint a little bit.”

Badani said she was tasked with choosing the stamp’s images and typography, and designing the cover of the booklet. Detailed down to kiwi seeds and color gradients, Badani found it challenging to fit illustrations on less than a square inch of space.

“It’s really about simplifying,” she said. “You don’t want too many things going on.”

Badani worked with Antonio Alcalá, the owner of local art and design company Studio A, who was also her professor in the Corcoran School of Arts and Design when he was a member of the school’s adjunct faculty.

Alongside her former professor, Badani created other stamps, like the commemorative Elvis Presley stamp, released in 2015. For last year’s solar eclipse, she worked on a stamp printed with thermochromic ink, which changes color according to temperature, so placing your finger on it revealed the moon.

Alcalá also serves as the art director of the postal service’s stamp development program. He said he likes designing for a utility product that can be used across the country.

“My favorite part is creating work that commemorates important aspects of our nation’s culture and history,” Alcalá said. “It’s exciting to know your work reaches to every town in the United States, if not every home.”

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