Issued: March 21, 2011
Article published in
Canada's Stamp Details (Vol. XX No 1; January to March 2011)
What's your sign? Are you a routine-lusting Taurus? An indecisive Gemini? Does being born under the sign of Cancer make you a moody homebody or are you an Aries-inspired natural born leader?
While many cultures have their own distinct zodiac signs and representative animals (for example, see our stamp issue celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, part of the 12-year menagerie that is the Lunar New Year), the most popular versions in our western world are the ones we find on the horoscope pages of our local newspapers, inspired by Roman, Hellenistic and Babylonian legend and symbolism.
Zodiac signs can be fascinating—whether you take the personality traits of your sign to heart and pay strict attention to your daily horoscope or merely see them as a conversation starter. They're also often viewed as an interesting means of self-expression—and with that in mind, Canada Post will begin to roll out stamps bearing each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, over the next three years.
For example, in 2011, the Aries stamp begins the annual Zodiac cycle on the Spring Equinox, March 21, followed in order by Taurus (April 21), Gemini (May 22) and Cancer (June 22.)
This first stamp, in honour of Aries, the Ram, features a stylized ram's head in the foreground, with the constellation from which it originates in the background. This twinning of imagery will continue on every stamp in the series. Aries is the sign that begins the zodiacal year, and those born under it are thought to be natural leaders, open to new ideas and staunch defenders of freedom of thought.
According to Paprika Design's Creative Director and Associate Louis Gagnon, the design assignment was both rigorous and stimulating. "We wanted to design a series with a strong aesthetic value, but also develop it on multiple levels to bring depth and relevance to each stamp issue in the series." Gagnon adds, "We hope collectors will enjoy discovering all the attributes of the entire series over the years."
For Stamp Design Manager Alain Leduc, this series is both intensely creative and informative. "With these stamps, Paprika took a unique approach, ensuring that each product within the series complements and extends the ideas inherent in the others. Each stamp reflects the characteristics of the sign's main attributes and colours in a very contemporary and sensitive way, each OFDC reveals a more precise understanding of the stars' positions in the universe—and even the cancels for each sign depict early modern simplifications of the conventional pictorial representations of the signs, symbolism that has existed since the Hellenistic age. The entire series is an astrological learning experience."
On this topic of continuity and complementary imagery, Leduc adds that this year's souvenir sheet of 4 stamps—to be released in July—will add yet another level of information and show how facts have been a force in the design, since the constellations of all four stamps will be shown on the same sheet.
"Just wait until we get to see the entire set of 12 first day covers—which have been designed to form a wheel of the zodiac of all 12 sun signs, created simply by positioning each envelope as part of a coloured circle, as if they were on a sky map. This series is the perfect example of how understanding and respecting the information brings richness and dimension to the design—this is what stamps are all about."