Birthday Stamps - Miniature Sheet
Birthday Stamps - Miniature Sheet for only GBP £4.79
On 19 February 2018, PostNL’s issue of the Birthday stamps sheetlet will honour the work of Stichting Jarige Job. This foundation makes sure that children that grow up in poverty are still able to celebrate their birthdays at home. The six stamps on this issue depict images of typical Dutch birthday parties. For the illustration, illustrator Charlotte Dematons combined her own illustrations with children’s drawings. The stamps are for items up to 20g in weight destined for mail within the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, there are around 60,000 children that do not celebrate their birthday. Stichting Jarige Job wants to bridge the gap between rich and poor children by making birthdays possible for children aged 4-12. This happens by giving families a complete birthday box with decorations, treats, an extra treat for at home and presents. The nationally active foundation works with social organisations that work for the most vulnerable children in Dutch society, including the Jeugdsportfonds, the Jeugdcultuurfonds, Stichting Leergeld, Stichting Het Vergeten Kind and the Voedselbank. PostNL is also a partner of Stichting Jarige Job. Huib Lloyd, Director of Stichting Jarige Job: “These are gorgeous stamps that show that birthdays should be a party for everyone. PostNL helps us not only through logistics support, but also by raising awareness for our initiative with these stamps. That’s great. The best part is that the children have no idea that Jarige Job exists. Thanks to the birthday box, the child feels like they really deserve to celebrate their birthday.” The Birthday stamps sheetlet features a large illustration with typically Dutch elements of children’s birthday parties. Every part of the illustration on the stamps contributes its own little story. In these stories, illustrator Charlotte Dematons combined children’s drawings with her own illustrations. The drawings do not stay within the frames of the stamps, but continue on the sheet edge and over the perforations between the stamps. This effect is intensified by the streamers criss-crossing the stamp sheetlet. The letters of the title of the stamp sheetlet, the word ‘Nederland’ and the denomination 1 were drawn by Dematons. Charlotte Dematons grew up in France, with a French father and a Dutch mother. “It wasn’t the best town, where we lived. The teachers at school weren’t nice. Luckily, my mother came to school a lot. She was nice to children. One day, a French boy told her it was his birthday the next day. My mother asked him what he was going to do to celebrate the day. We don’t celebrate birthdays, the little boy said. My mother was surprised: won’t you be getting any birthday presents tomorrow? I’ve never been given a birthday present, the boy answered. The next day, my mother went to school with a harmonica, gift-wrapped in a little box. Small enough for him to hide from his parents. The boy wrote her a thank-you note full of spelling errors. My mother is almost 90 now. She still has that thank-you note.” You’re the boss! To gain inspiration for the stamps, Dematons spent an afternoon with a group of children. “Such precious children. I asked the little darlings: what is a birthday party? What comes to mind when you think of a birthday party? And would you draw that for me? Because you’re the boss! And of course they would. One of them drew a cake, others drew streamers. A little boy drew his friends that were invited to his party. Because that was the best part, he thought. Others drew balloons. And presents, of course. I also asked all of them to make their drawings as nice as possible. A present without a bow on it isn’t a present! I took all the drawings back home with me.” Grandma and grandpa Dematons copied the children’s drawings as precisely as possible using the same coloured pencils. “Which is actually plagiarism. That’s why the children’s names are also on the stamp sheetlet. Like I said: they were the boss. I added my own drawings to theirs. The mothers shaking hands. The little boy hanging from the balloons. And of course, a grandma and a grandpa. Because what is a birthday party without grandma and grandpa? And they always sit on a special chair. So the chair is on the sheetlet, too. I love adding little jokes to my work. Like the grandma who yells ‘hooray!’ and forgot about the cup of coffee on her lap. The birthday girl at the top left who is so entranced in her book she forgets all about the guests. The cat stealing a bit of cake, the twins carrying a present that’s much too heavy. The grandpa acting like he’s mad about his grandson blowing a party horn in his ear. Children love that.” Erasing to your heart’s content Dematons made her illustration at 200%, so that she could draw all the details perfectly. “I always sketch in black and white on tracing paper first. It’s perfect. I can erase all I want. When I’m happy with the result, I do the next sketch in coloured pencil. I usually keep those sketches to myself. Because I always know what I want the final result to look like in my head, but you never know what other people might come up with. For the illustration, I used a very fine paintbrush, with acrylic paint on smooth watercolour paper. The background on the stamps was done with watercolour paint. The background on the sheetlet was done in pastel. A bit of everything! I shifted things around endlessly when making the definitive illustration. Even at the very last moment, I changed a few details. The girl on the cake, for example. And grandpa on his chair was moved as well.” Read it like a book A birthday party is something you celebrate together. That’s why Dematons made all the stamps on the sheetlet into one big illustration with several different birthday parties. “You can read the drawing like a book. From left to right and top to bottom. The streamers connect all of them, but there are also other forms of connection. The father pointing up to show the boy, holding his present tight, whose birthday it really is. Or the child on the birthday cake in another stamp. That did make it harder for me. But I prefer it that way. It’s become a really fun drawing of happy Dutch birthdays. I do know there is a lot of suffering in the world, too. That’s exactly why I want to show that life also has bright moments. So I made it into a celebratory story. That’s also my job, in a way. Telling stories.” About the designer Charlotte Dematons (Évreux, 1957) is a Dutch illustrator of children’s books. After high school in France, she moved to the Netherlands to study to become an illustrator and designer at Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. In 1982, her first children’s book was released, called Dido. Since then, over 300 titles have been published featuring her illustrations. In 2006, Dematons won a Zilveren Penseel award for the illustrations in Grimm, a reissued bind-up of the famous fairy tales, and in 2008, she won a Gouden Penseel award for the picture book without text, Sinterklaas. Dematons’ drawings are very detailed, often with an enchanting atmosphere, combining realistic observations with striking use of colour and humour. Other famous books featuring Dematons’ illustrations include De gele ballon, (2003), Nederland (2012) and Holland op zijn mooist (2015). In 2016, Tiny Fisscher’s successful adaptation of Hector Malot’s famous classic Alleen op de wereld was released, for which Dematons did the illustrations. The stamps are available from Bruna branches and via www.postnl.nl/collect while stocks last. You can also order the stamps by telephone, by calling the Collect Club Customer Service at +31 (0)88 - 868 99 00. The stamps have no expiration date.