Simone Sakinofsky is a talented stamp designer and Team Leader of the Australia Post Design Studio. We spoke with Simone about her pathway into design and the many factors she considers when designing stamps.
What was your path into graphic design and why did it appeal to you?
As a child I was always drawing, as well as interested in art and being creative. I would even come up with ideas of how to draw and create my own board games and toys! People around me encouraged my creativity and I continued to study art on weekends and throughout school, including year 12.
During year 12, I started thinking about future careers and was interested in how to pursue an artistic career in particular. I decided to put non-art related courses on hold and explore different art subjects, whilst building up an art folio at the Brighton Bay Art, Design and Photography Program.
The course was just what I needed and gave me an introduction into many different types of art and design, allowing me to understand that I not only enjoyed creating aesthetically pleasing design/art, but also the ideas behind design and the way in which design can communicate. All these things combined meant I knew that I needed to pursue graphic design!
When did you start working with Australia Post Philatelic and in what role?
My Bachelor of Design/Communication Design degree (Graphic Design) at RMIT University led me to Australia Post, Philatelic.
After completing my degree, I wanted to further my studies and get industry experience at the same time.
In 2003 Australia Post Philatelic, in conjunction with RMIT, offered an Honours program, which incorporated an industry-based learning year as a junior graphic designer. I was lucky enough to be selected for interview and obtain a position with Australia Post Philateli
After doing some travelling and then working in some smaller design companies, I had the opportunity to return to Australia Post Philatelic in late 2005.
You are the Team Leader of the Design Studio. When did you take on that role and what does it entail?
My graphic design position began transitioning to Team Leader in 2012. I was officially awarded the role in 2015. I continue to design, but I am also responsible for assisting the Design Manager with administrational tasks and the work-flow of the design studio.
As Team leader, I also act as a point of contact for our Channel division, which means coordinating the design and production of point of sale, advertising, postmarking and publications, such as the Stamp Bulletin and Australia Post Impressions catalogue.
I really like the balance of being creative and designing, while also building on other skills within the role.
What are the most enjoyable aspect of designing stamps?
I still really enjoy designing as a communication tool. The only difference with stamp design is that you need to impart a lot more information in a small space, in order to effectively communicate the theme you are commemorating or highlighting.
You learn so much with each stamp issue you work on, and it’s great when you hear from collectors, who are excited about the topics and work you have done. I also still get excited seeing my work on an envelope in the mail!
What are the most challenging aspects of stamp design?
Each stamp is a design challenge, but working through the design process, and getting constructive feedback from our stamp advisory committee, helps you to push your design further, making sure you are connecting with the right target market.
We also have technical restrictions when designing stamps, such as keeping certain areas light enough to allow Helecon to be visible, a phosphor material that is used in our letter sorting system to identify a postage stamp.
How does designing stamps differ from other forms of design?
Not only are there technical restrictions for stamp designs, but there are lots of little details that go into stamps. The year of the stamp must always be present and the word “Australia”, and the denomination and other typography must be legible at stamp size.
Our stamps are sent all around the world and are considered carriers of national symbolism, so when designing we take many things into consideration, in order to try and reflect that.
What has been your favourite stamp project to work on so far and why?
There have been many great projects to work on, such as designing the stamps for the Olympic Games, but one I’m also proud of is the 2010 Legends of the Written Word stamp issue, which celebrates Australian authors.
It was great to conceptualise the ‘written word’, by designing the stamps to look like book page layouts, with subtle publication icon references and further extending the use of typography to the product range. I also got to meet Peter Carey, one of the writers, as a result of working on the project.
Is there anything you think stamp collectors would be fascinated to learn about the stamp design process?
I think collectors are so passionate about stamps that they pick up on all the details and history within a stamp design.
The journey of the design from concept to final printed design is probably something that would interest them, as not all designs end up as they started or end up adopted at all. Some stamp issues may suit an illustrative or photographic approach and some designs may take longer than others to get to the final design.
There is a vast approval process that the designs have to go through to end up in someone’s collection. All designs need to answer the brief and meet deadlines to be able to meet the ‘first day of issue’.
Checklist of stamp & product designs by Simone Sakinofsky
Wildflowers, 14.12.2015 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 3 x $1, $2 (SB 338)
The Dogs that saved Macquarie Island, 09.10.2015 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 2 x 70c, 2 x $1.40 (SB 336)
Centenary of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 30.06.2015 (product design): 70c (SB 334)
Queen’s Birthday 2015, 07.04.2015 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 70c, $2.75 (SB 333)
The First Victoria Cross, 22.01.2015 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 70c, $5 (SB 332)
A Century of Service: the Australian Defence Force, 21.10.2014 (product design): 4 x 70c (SB 330)
Open Gardens Australia, 02.09.2014 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 5 x 70c (SB 330)
Australia–Norfolk Island Joint Issue, 22.07.2014 (product design): 70c, $1.40 (SB 329)
Royal Visit, 08.07.2014 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 70c, $2.60 (SB 329)
Special Occasions, 15.04.2014 (product design): 9 x 70c, $1.40 (SB 327)
Flowering shrubs Christmas Island, 18.06.2013 (stamp typography & product design): 2 x 60c, 2 x $1.20 (SB 322)
Australia and Israel joint issue, 10.05.2013 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 60c, $2.60 (SB 322)
Bush Babies II, 02.04.2013 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: $1.70, $1.75, $2.60, $4.65, $6.45 (SB 321)
Centenary of Canberra, 05.03.2013 (product design): 60c, $2.35 (SB 321)
Australian Zoos, 28.09.2012 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 7 x 60c & mini sheet (SB 318)
Underwater World, 08.05.2012 (stamp design & product design; stamp photographs: Clay BRYCE): 3 x 60c, 2 x $1.20, $1.80 (SB 316)
Australian Gold Medallist (London) Instant Sheetlets, 08.2012 (stamp design and product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 7 x 60c (SB 317)
Colonial Heritage – Visualising Australia, 19.06.2012 (product design): 2 x $2 (SB 316)
Medical Doctors, 10.04.2012 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 5 x 60c (SB 315)
Christmas secular, 31.10.2011 (stamp & product design), Simone Sakinofsky: 3 x 55c, 60c (SB 313)
Bush Babies, 01.07.2011 (stamp & product design): 60c, $1.60, $1.65, $2.35, $4.70 (SB 311)
Living Australian, 05.07.2011 (stamp & product design): 5 x 60c (SB 311)
World Wide Fund for Nature: 50 Years, 30.08.2011 (product design): 4 x 60c & mini sheet (SB 311)
Queen’s 85th Birthday, 05.04.2011 (product design): 60c, $2.20 (SB 309)
Air Force Aviation, 22.02.2011 (stamp typography & product design; stamp illustrations: Jamie TUFRY): 2 x 60c, $1.20, $3 & mini sheet (SB 308)
Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal, 27.01.2011 (sheetlet design, stamps by Lynette Traynor): 5 x 60c (SB 309)
150th Melbourne Cup, 01.11.2010 (product design): 4 x 60c & mini sheet (SB 307)
Australian Kingfishers, 26.10.2010 (stamp typography & product design; stamp illustrations: Christopher POPE): 60c, $1.20, $1.80, $3 (SB 306)
Fishes of the Reef, Part 1: 21.06.2010; Part 2: 28.06.2010 (stamp & product design): 5c, 4 x 60c, $1.20, $1.80, $3 (SB 305)
Christmas Island Frigatebird (WWF), 17.08.2010 (stamp typography; stamp illustrations: Ego GUIOTTO): 2 x 60c, 2 x $1.20 (SB 305)
Adopted and Adored, 29.06.2010 (stamp & product design): 5 x 55c (SB 304)
Australian Legends of the Written Word, 21.01.2010 (stamp & product design): 12 x 55c (SB 303)
Australian Parks and Gardens, 14.07.2009 (stamp & product design; stamp photographs: Simon GRIFFITHS): 5 x 55c (SB 299)
Not Just Desserts, 15.05.2009 (product design): 4 x 55c (SB 298)
Tourist Precincts, 08.09.2008 (stamp & product design): 4 x 55c, $1.10, $1.65, $2.75 (SB 295)
For Every Occasion, 23.09.2008 (product design with Jo MURE): 9 x 55c, $1.10 (SB 294)
100 Years of Quarantine, 15.07.2008 (stamp & product design): 50c (SB 293)
Special Occasions – Love Blooms, 15.01.2008 (stamp & product design): 50c (SB 290)
Blast Off! 50 Years in Space, 02.10.2007 (product design): 5 x 50c, $1 (SB 289)
AAT Royal Penguins, 07.08.2007 (product design): 2 x 50c, 2 x $1 (SB 288)
Threatened Wildlife, 26.06.2007 (stamp typography & product design; stamp illustrations: Ego GUIOTTO): 2 x 50c, $1.25, $1.30 (SB 287)
Nostalgic Tourism, 10.04.2007 (product design): 50c, $1, $2, $2.45 (SB 287)
Christmas 2006, 01.11.2006 (stamp typography and product design): 45c, 50c, $1.05 (SB 285)
Commonwealth Games, 01.03.2006 (product design) stamp design: G DOMONEY): 50c, $1.25, $1.85 (SB 282)
Commonwealth Games Logo, 12.01.2006 (product design) stamp design: G DOMONEY): 50c (SB 282)
Rainforest Butterflies, 04.05.2004 (product design): 5c, 10c, 75c, $2 (SB 274)
150 Years of Australian South Sea Islanders pre-stamped envelope, 01.03.2013 (envelope design): 60c (SB 321)
Lions Club International Convention pre-paid envelope, 28.06.2010 (envelope design): 65c (SB 304)
Centenary of Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices pre-paid envelope, 09.02.2010 (envelope design): 65c (SB 302)
Centenary of first Special Postmarker pre-stamped envelope, 22.02.2005 (envelope design): 50c (SB 278)
Tropical Birds pre-stamped envelopes, 08.02.2005 (product designs with Jo Muré; illustrations: Ego GUITTO): 5 x PPE (SB 278)
Commonwealth Games Gold medallist instant stamps (2006), (Part of the Australia Post design team)
Beijing Olympics Gold medallist instant stamps (2008), (Part of the Australia Post design team)
London Olympic Gold Medallist instant stamps (2012), (Part of the Australia Post design team)
Annual Collection 2008 and 2013
Australian Gold Medallists of 2012 Olympic Games Collection, 08.2012 (book design): $49.95 (SB 317)
Australian Legends of Football book 2012