Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

How the USPS turned images from the James Webb Space Telescope into mailable art

February 6, 2024


In 2022, when NASA released some of the first photos the James Webb Space Telescope had captured of the universe, they sold like hotcakes. Pillars of Creation—three striking towers of gas and dust that look like arches and spires rising out of a desert landscape—were slapped on T-shirts and printed on mouse pads. Cosmic Cliffs, which resembles jagged mountains on a moonlit evening, starred in wildly intricate jigsaw puzzles. Many of these objects hit the internet soon after the images were unveiled. But another object has been in the works for more than a year: It’s sticky, flat, and significantly smaller than anything you’ve seen the cosmos printed on.

The U.S. Postal Service recently released two Priority Mail stamp designs of Pillars of Creation and Cosmic Cliffs. These stamps, like every other stamp issued by the USPS, have to go through a long and rigorous process—sometimes extending to three years or more—before you can stick them on your envelope and slip them in a mailbox. Shepherding that process is a team of four art directors. One of them is named Greg Breeding.
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