Lunar New Year 2017 celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, the tenth sign in the 12-year recurring Chinese Zodiac cycle. Those born under the Rooster sign are known to be confident, observant, resourceful and courageous. According to the Chinese Lunar calendar, the year runs from from 28 January 2017 until 15 February 2018.
The stamps in the Year of the Rooster 2017 stamp issue, which will be released on 10 January 2017, feature the Chinese calligraphic symbol for the Rooster in the $3 stamp. The $1 stamp presents a pictorial version of the Rooster, featuring paper cut motifs, a popular form of Chinese art, together with calligraphy. The minisheet tells the story of the fearless and persistent Rooster, whose reliable morning crowing made a fearful sun feel safe enough to rise again, returning warmth to the world.
Just as the flamboyant Rooster is the tenth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, this is also the tenth in a 12 stamp design commission for Dani Poon, the talented graphic designer behind this current series of Lunar New Year stamps. We spoke to Dani about her love of design and how she has handled such a large-scale philatelic design project.
Dani developed a love for designing things right from the start: “I was very keen on drawing, interested in forms and shapes since I was a child. Kids played with Barbie dolls, while I was using icecream sticks to design and build furniture for the dolls instead!” she recalls.
That early passion led Dani to study graphic design at Swinburne University. While Dani studied her degree in Melbourne, she grew up in Hong Kong, which has definitely had an influence on her career and design approach.
“Studying in Melbourne but growing up in Hong Kong makes me much more open minded towards ideas and thinking. And certainly it enables me to understand what clients need very quickly. I guess these are the sensibilities one develops when being immersed in different cultures,” says Dani.
When Dani heard that Australia Post Philatelic was putting a call out for graphic designers with a Chinese cultural background, it almost seemed ‘meant to be’.
“I was freelancing at the time, when my boss told me that Australia Post was looking for a graphic designer – one with a Chinese cultural background, but a western education. On the same day, I also received an email from a design friend telling me about the same opportunity! Stamps and bank notes are apparently the graphic designers' dream projects – they are a collectable item, unlike a catalogue, annual report and the like, which are very disposable,” Dani says.
Needless to say, Dani got the gig. Rather than feeling over-awed by the size and scale of the project, Dani approached the brief in a logical and organised way.
“When I first received the brief, the two questions I asked myself were, ‘how do I roll it out 12 issues with a consistent style and a story behind each, and who is my audience?’ Once those priorities were established, then the direction was very clear,” Dani recalls.
The main audience for the stamp series is both Chinese and western customers, so Dani has interpreted traditional Chinese elements in a modern, western style in order to bridge both markets. She also uses Chinese folklore stories, which are known to most Chinese-speaking people, but which also make for an interesting journey of discovery for western audiences.
“The most challenging parts are trying to keep a consistent style without being too similar or too different, as well as appealing to the east and west. Plus, Chinese culture can be very superstitious when it comes to colours (pure cyan blue and white, for example). Anything that suggests bad luck or negativity in the design must be avoided,” Dani says.
The story research itself can also be a challenge, especially as the story must be something that translates easily to the design of the stamps, minisheet, prestige book and other products.
“I have spent a lot of time looking through books and looking on the internet. The story has to be short and of a folklore variety, and reflect the person's personality who is born in that year. Once I have found the right story, then begins the process of interpreting the story into the graphics, in a way that is both highly symbolic but still understandable. I find this process very enjoyable,” says Dani.
And of course it helps that Dani herself celebrates Lunar New Year!
“Traditionally we used to go to the New Year market on New Year’s Eve. We would buy new clothes and exchange traditional red money packets on the first day of the Lunar New Year, along with lots of yummy food. Those days of new clothes and packet money are long gone for me, but I still cook the New Year food. I also enjoy hearing the loud fire crackers and seeing the mighty Dragon dance in front of the shops, which is supposed to scare away the bad spirits,” says Dani.
When Dani reflects on the past 10 years of the project, she feels a great sense of fulfilment.
“I think the best part is knowing that everyday someone out there are really loving my stamps and waiting for them to come out every year. My husband often said this whole stamp collection is my legacy.
Being a graphic designer is not an easy job by any means, but the process of brainstorming, sketching and visualisation, and then finally hitting the idea ‘jackpot’, is very fulfilling.”
Special products for Year of the Rooster 2017
Personalised stamps for the New Year!
The $1 Year of the Rooster 2017 stamp will be available as a personalised stamp. That means you can upload your own photo and it will be printed in the tab alongside the stamp. Both the stamp and the photo tab are then attached to your envelope, for a festive touch.
Simply upload your photo, submit your order form and, once approved, we will print and send you your personalised stamp sheetlets. Terms and conditions apply to the use of the Personalised Stamps service.
Silk minisheet collection
A special Lunar New Year silk minisheet collection, limited to 5,000, will be released with this year’s stamp issue. It features a traditional gummed stamp minisheet, a self-adhesive minisheet with mesh perforation and a minisheet printed on silk. Both the silk and self-adhesive minisheet, the title and the calligraphic symbol on the $2.10 stamp are embellished with a Milford Astor foil, the same foil used on the gummed minisheet. This product is not only highly collectable, but also makes for a very special New Year gift.
Year of the Rooster gold minisheet
Only 500 of this special 24 carat gold Year of the Rooster 2017 minisheet have been produced! It comes in a clear perspex presentation mount, and makes a beautiful gift or memento for those born in the Year of the Rooster.
The Christmas Island Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster 2017 stamp issue is available from 10 January 2017 online, at participating Post Offices and via mail order on 1800 331 794 (+61 3 9887 0033 from overseas), while stocks last.
*This article was produced at the time of publication and will not be updated.