On 3 July 2023, PostNL will introduce a new design for the Echt Hollands 10 x Nederland 1, 5 x Internationaal 1 and 50 x Internationaal 1 stamps. These three stamp sheets are part of the basic range of stamps. The denomination on the Echt Hollands 10 x Nederland 1 stamps is ‘1’, the denomination for items weighing up to 20g destined for the Netherlands. This sheet of stamps costs €10.10. The Echt Hollands 5 x Internationaal 1 and Echt Hollands 50 x Internationaal 1 stamps are marked ‘Internationaal 1’, the denomination for items up to 20g in weight destined for delivery outside of the Netherlands. These sheets of stamps cost €8.25 and €82.50 respectively.
PostNL’s range of stamps consists of permanent stamps from the basic range and special stamps from the annual collection. Permanent stamps include stamps with the portrait of King Willem-Alexander, the love stamps, birth stamps, mourning stamps, business stamps on rolls and the 10 x Nederland 1, 5 x Internationaal 1 and 50 x Internationaal 1 stamps. PostNL regularly redesigns its permanent stamps to reflect the spirit of the times. On 3 July 2023, the Echt Hollands 10 x Nederland 1, 5 x Internationaal 1 and 50 x Internationaal 1 stamps, designed by Sanny van Loon from Amsterdam, will be issued. The new stamps are the successors to the 2014 permanent stamps with their white-and-blue 3D icons.
The Echt Hollands 10 x Nederland 1 stamps feature 10 ‘Truly Dutch’ (Echt Hollandse) images: a vase with tulips, a carrier pigeon with a letter, a bakfiets (cargo bicycle) with plants, a coffee pot and mug with a Boerenbont motif, a lighthouse, a herring, canal houses, a whipped cream cake, a caravan and a cheeseboard. Of the 10 images, five are also featured on the Echt Hollands 5 x Internationaal 1 stamps: the herring, the vase with tulips, the lighthouse, the carrier pigeon and the coffee pot with mug. The Echt Hollands 50 x Internationaal 1 features the vase with tulips.
All illustrations were hand drawn by illustrator Sanny van Loon from Amsterdam. The illustrations are placed in the centre of the stamps against a background of diamonds or stripes in different shades of turquoise. The denomination 1 is printed at the top right of the stamps, while the country indication Nederland is printed in capitals at the bottom. The Echt Hollands 5 x Internationaal 1 and Echt Hollands 50 x Internationaal 1 stamps are marked ‘Internationaal’ on the left-hand side of the stamp. The stamps for domestic destinations have a drawn golden-yellow perforated border. The foreign destination stamps have a dark blue border.
All of the typography was hand drawn by illustrator Sanny van Loon. The typography of the texts on the sheet edges uses the PostNL font, a 2012 edited version of the FS Jack font designed by Jason Smith and Fernando Mello of Fontsmith (London).
The design of the Echt Hollands stamps was created by illustrator Sanny van Loon from Amsterdam, who previously designed the 2018 December stamps. Sanny began the task as she always does, namely by grabbing pen and paper. ‘My desk was littered with A4 sketches in no time. I drew all kinds of things: landscapes, food, flowers, art, buildings and so on. For me, working with shapes is always better than making lists. Because when I write down ‘cheese’, for example, I immediately think: what a cliché. Drawing allows me to find new angles much more quickly. My pen is all over the place. Based on the sketches, I made a selection of subjects that made me happy. While brainstorming with PostNL, we made some adjustments.’
Sanny’s illustrations are often nostalgic in character. ‘I love vintage, retro or whatever you want to call it. It is an important aspect of my work, but I always create fresh images that everyone can recognise. The 1970s caravan on the stamp is a good example of how to mix nostalgia with contemporary. Many people will think of past holidays with their parents, but camping has also been rediscovered by younger generations. So this image combines the traditional and what is currently cool.’
The process from concept to final design involved several rounds of consultations. Sanny: ‘I discussed my line drawings with PostNL first to see if I was on the right track in terms of content. The next time we reviewed it, I added some colours to the drawings to give an idea of the palette I had in mind. This is how we went through the step-by-step process, also when we chose the subjects and how these would be worked out in more detail. It was a truly organic process. Then I worked out a few stamps in more detail to see if the concept held up in practice. And it did. At that stage, the colour palette had already been determined. The diamond and striped patterns in the background were created later. I added small details to each illustration, usually ones with a little movement. A small flag, a cloud, steam from the mug of coffee, smoke from the chimney or a sailboat passing by.’
Sanny describes the illustrations as ‘miniature paintings’, each with its own story. ‘The image of the tulips in the enamelled jug was in my head right from the start. One of the tulips has already hung its head; everybody knows that phenomenon. Some of the petals have fallen onto the table. This refers to the flower still lifes of the Dutch masters, which always show something fleeting, something transient. The illustration featuring the cheeses had many iterations. I drew countless sketches: cheese sandwiches, cheese markets, cheese cubes, whole cheeses, cheese shops, cheese knives, cheese paper, and so on. Everything finally fell into place when I saw the cheese board in front of me, with the familiar Dutch cheese cubes on skewers and a pickle and a tomato on top. I wanted to feature the herring on its wee square cardboard plate on a separate stamp. Surely no one in the world eats herring the way we do? In the illustration, some onions have ended up next to the plate. There is something festive about it; it looks like confetti. The crumbs of the cream cake – another typical Dutch birthday treat – have a similar effect. I added the lighthouse as part of a landscape. It is a classical Dutch coastal image, with red and white against a blue sky. Truly a picture postcard. The modern bakfiets is something contemporary again, while the caravan is typically Dutch with its lawn chairs and the little plant to create a homely feeling. All these subjects relate to my own life. I often base my work on memories, but I depict them in such a way that they appeal to everyone. For example, when I see Boerenbont crockery, I’m always reminded of the cosiness of visits to my grandmother. And the canal houses look like the ones near where I was born and where I live now.’
The illustrations use typical ‘Sanny colours’: warm, nostalgic and with plenty of her favourite colour: golden yellow. ‘The red-white-blue of the Dutch flag also returns throughout, but with my own twist, making the red and blue slightly darker and warmer. The red veers on lipstick red. To me, that represents family, warmth and cosiness. Golden yellow and green are really current colours and they give the stamps a fresh touch. The turquoise as the background colour reflects the important role water plays in our country.’
The patterns in the background of each illustration – the diamonds and stripes – are inspired by Dutch interiors. ‘You often see those patterns on kitchen tables or duvet covers, for example,’ says Sanny. ‘The alternation of diamonds and stripes makes the overall look a little more exciting. The stamps that have diamonds in the background are diamond-shaped on the stamp sheet. And on each stamp, the background plays a different role. Some look like a cheeseboard, others form a tablecloth, a serving tray or a field on a campground. Related subjects are scattered across the stamp sheet. Colour and shape also play a role in the sequence. For example, the narrowest illustration of the lighthouse has been placed right in the centre. Nothing is random; everything has a reason. The different shades of turquoise in the background make the illustration stand out more, so you get drawn into the picture. This enhances the narrative of the painting, which is emphasised by the perforations along the edge. The domestic stamps have a yellow border and the ones for international mail have a blue border. This makes it easier for the sender to tell them apart.’
All illustrations were hand-painted, then scanned and merged with the backgrounds on the computer and edited where necessary. Sanny: ‘My lines are a little cleaner than they usually are. This works better with the designs. The drawings are drafted with pen and India ink and I paint the colours and textures on watercolour paper with large brushes to get a good texture. As usual, I mix all the colours myself to get exactly the right effect.’
Sanny also drew the typography on the stamps by hand. ‘The letters were inspired by Dutch stamps from the 1960s and 70s, when designers often used block letters with larger spacing. Take a look Dick Elffers’ 1972 summer stamps, for example. The larger space between letters keeps the typography light and airy. So you get a solid letter, but it doesn’t detract from the image. It may not be visible that the letters have been drawn to the naked eye, but it really makes a big difference. It was great that PostNL trusted me to do this. Of course, when you do everything by hand you end up with small imperfections here and there. But that’s part of the process. It also makes the design a true Sanny van Loon.’
About the designer
Sanny van Loon (Amsterdam, 1988) studied graphic design from 2005 to 2009 at the MediaCollege in Amsterdam, followed by further training in illustration from 2010 to 2014 at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. In the second year of her course in Utrecht, she founded a company under her own name in Amsterdam to enable her to take commissions. Sanny works for a variety of clients, including Air Canada, HEMA, Nivea, PostNL and Psychology Today. She creates illustrations to be used for a variety of purposes, in magazines and books, for packaging, and for all kinds of products. For PostNL, Sanny previously designed the 2018 December stamps.