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What Makes Good Stamp Design?
Is the background simple enough to facilitate these additional elements?
1934 Federal Duck Stamp by Ding Darling
The First Federal Duck Stamp
Artist: Jay N. Ding Darling
Is the composition strong with sufficient color contrast to emphasize detail and shading ?
Do elements such as shape and line appear strong enough that they do not blur together ?
Does the central design stand out from the background? Is it eye-catching?
Is there space for lettering and numerals without overlapping the central featured design elements?
Is the background simple enough to facilitate these additional elements?
Since 1934, the year of the first Federal Duck Stamp, the stamp's design has included three components: a central vignette, a denomination and textual inscriptions. Early Federal Duck Stamp designs were entirely engraved and printed on a flat bed press. Today printing technology is constantly changing and combination printing techniques with security measures are standard. Federal Duck Stamps are also issued in different formats such as the water-activated (WAG) single stamp and the self-adhesive mini-sheet (PSA).
The artwork for a Federal Duck Stamp has specific requirements to be effective as a stamp design. Not only must the duck(s) be anatomically correct and in the appropriate habitat, the design must also meet the following considerations:
75th Duck Stamp art
Original artwo
rk for the 75th Duck Stamp
by Joseph Hautman
75th Anniversary Duck Stamp 75th Anniversary Stamp, Artist Joe Hautman

Is the design simple? Avoid complicated designs that will not reduce well or in which important details will be lost. Use a reducing glass to see how the design will appear when reduced to stamp size

Is the design original? Avoid designs that are duplicates of previous Federal Duck Stamp designs. Past duck stamps and resources listed below make good sources for design ideas and information about past duck stamps.
  Source: Cheryl Ganz, Chief Curator of Philately, Smithsonian National Postal Museum with James O'Donnell, Museum Specialist, NPM, and Terry McCaffrey, Manager of Stamp Development, United States Postal Service. 2008
The Duck Stamp Story by Eric Jay Dolin and Bob Dumaine (krause Pub. 2000).
The Federal Duck Stamps by David P. McBride(Winchester Press, 1984).
The Federal Duck Stamp 75th Anniversary Field Guide(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/ -Federal Duck Stamp Office
http://arago.si.edu -Smithsonian National Postal Museum has all federal duck stamps on-line with descriptive text as well as the featured collection Glorious Flight.
Last updated: December 11, 2014
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