When I thought about creating a stamps only blog, I knew I wanted a design I could be proud of. However, I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination and tend to put together half-realized ideas using cut-and-paste methods that would make Photoshop users cringe. I have nothing against Photoshop per se, it’s just that I’ve never been able to master even the simplest of tasks using it.
The rotating banners on “Philatelic Pursuits” all feature a similar design which started with a scan of a stamp in the 1946 Peace Issue omnibus, in this case the 2p gray black issued by Turks & Caicos (Scott #90) on 4 November 1946. Basically, I erased most of the design using Microsoft Paint keeping only the perforations and border.
I then cropped it to fit the proper size allowed by my choice of theme for the WordPress-hosted blog. That theme, by the way, is called Chateau and I chose it for it’s bright, clean look with the white being a nice contrast, I thought, to the black on my main blog at Asian Meanderings. There is also a host of customization features I can use should I want to.
In order to add the lettering, I turned to my second favorite photo editor — a piece of freeware called PhotoScape. I used the font Goudy Old Style for the blog’s name and played around with the outline and shadow settings until I had something that, to my eyes anyway, evoked something similar to that used on favorite classic stamps. I then composed a tag-line (something else I never seem to be entirely pleased with) using a member of the Segoe font family. To complete this simplistic design, I added one of the postmarks I’d created a few years ago for my private local post (more on that in a future blog entry…).
This, I felt was adequate. It was just, well, missing something… A banner for a stamp site needs stamps! But which stamps to include? I thought about picturing the Penny Black with the control letters using my initials, a decent copy of which I’d obtained earlier this year as my personal tribute to the stamp’s 175th anniversary. Better to save that for a larger image.
My second thought was to represent those places I’ve lived in during my life and narrowed it down to just the states and province — Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, New Mexico, and Phuket here in Thailand — and simply chose a favorite stamp picturing each place.
The reason I chose The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home, rather than a statehood stamp for Tennessee is because we lived near there during the time that I first began collecting stamps! The Thai stamp portrays the Two Heroines Monument in Phuket, honoring two sisters who’d organized the armed force on the island (made up largely of women and old men) breaking a siege by Burmese invaders in the late eighteenth century.
Since philately is largely about variety, I decided to make a few more similar banners that would change each time somebody returned to the blog. I chose to create one (well, two) honoring the hobby itself and another using a few more Thai stamps picturing my current home of Phuket. I know it’s a simplistic design but I can easily create additional banners whenever I feel like a change.
I hope you like my meager attempts at design on “Philatelic Pursuits”. I’m pretty happy with these for now but please feel free to offer any suggestions for improvements.