Celebrate the holidays with four new stamps from the U.S. Postal Service. These festive, folk art-inspired stamps are sure to enliven your 2024 holiday mailings.
With a color palette including red, green, blue, pink, yellow, and white, illustrator Michelle Muñoz channeled her love of Christmas, vintage ornaments, and Mexican folk art to create unique images of holiday decor: two traditionally shaped ornaments ready to hang; a vibrant poinsettia surrounded by greenery; and a whimsical blue flower centered against green leaves and delicate scrollwork.
Evergreen trees and flowering plants have been a part of winter and seasonal festivities for thousands of years. Firs and other foliage that stayed green during those long, dark days provided hope and comfort to pagan celebrants by reminding them that summer and sunlight would eventually return. Over time, Christians made the tradition of using greenery at winter celebrations their own: the first recorded mention of decorated fir trees came from early 17th-century Germany.
Glass ornaments appeared in Germany in the mid-1800s, spreading to the United States and many other countries by the end of the 19th century. Mass produced, commercial tree decorations are ubiquitous today, but unique, hand-blown or handcrafted baubles are still produced by small companies in America and Europe.
Unlike holiday tree ornaments, the iconic poinsettia did not arrive in the United States by way of Europe. Native to Mexico, where it can grow 10 feet tall or more, the poinsettia is the one of the most popular potted plants in the United States today with more than 34 million poinsettias sold each year. It has been associated with Christmas here since the 19th century.
Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps using original digital illustrations by Michelle Muñoz.
Stamp Art Director
Antonio Alcalá served on the Postmaster General’s Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee from 2010 until 2011, when he left to become an art director for the U.S. Postal Service's stamp development program.
After working as a book designer and freelance graphic designer, Alcalá opened Studio A in 1988. Since then his studio has won awards of excellence in design from local, national, and international design institutions including AIGA, Print, Communication Arts, and Graphis. His clients include: the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Phillips Collection, and Smithsonian Institution.
Alcalá is an adjunct faculty member of the Maryland Institute College of Art, MFA program in graphic design, and founder of the design education program DesignWorkshops. He served on the board of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association and is a past president of the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington. The AIGA DC Chapter selected Alcalá as its 2008 AIGA Fellow. His work is represented in the AIGA Design Archives and the Library of Congress Permanent Collection of Graphic Design.
Alcalá graduated from Yale University with a BA in history and from the Yale School of Art with an MFA in graphic design. He lives with his wife in Alexandria, Virginia.
Michelle Muñoz is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Southern California. Her roots in the state as well as her Mexican heritage have inspired her signature style, which incorporates vibrant hues, fun patterns, and floral elements. She especially enjoys working with clients, brands, and organizations that reflect and empower people of color.
Growing up in a traditional, Mexican home in California, Muñoz remembers being attracted to art from an early age. She learned to sew and crochet at age 7 and, in her free time, would often draw or create collages from old magazines. In high school, she explored a variety of creative classes such as photography, web design, and mixed media, and later continued her art studies at California State University, San Bernardino.
Muñoz’s work has appeared in local magazines and been exhibited at her alma mater. Her clients have included Target, Erin Condren, the Democratic National Committee, Amazon Music and Amazon Music Lat!n, Disney Plus, Always Brand, Sony Music, This is About Humanity, and Poderistas among others. When she’s not at work, Muñoz likes visiting museums and exploring new locales.
The 2024 Holiday Joy stamps are her first project with the U.S. Postal Service.