Responses by Baxter & Bailey
Background: June 6, 2019 is a significant date in European history. It marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when Allied forces landed on Normandy’s beaches in 1944 to liberate Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The operation—codenamed Neptune, and part of the larger Operation Overlord—was the largest in seaborne military history. We were honored to be asked by Royal Mail to conceive and design a set of eleven commemorative stamps to mark this moment in history.
Reasoning: Working with Royal Mail’s design team and historians at the Imperial War Museum, eleven images were selected to accurately and dramatically convey the timeline of the landings on the stamps themselves, as well as across supporting products. Our involvement also saw us creating the day-of-issue hand stamps. We made a decision early on in the process that our aesthetic approach should avoid design pastiche. Our aim was to present these historic events in a clean, contemporary way. This decision affected our color choices, our typographic decisions and our layout and grid also.
Challenges: The need to communicate momentous, large-scale events on such a small canvas is a design challenge, so the supporting design components needed to be as unobtrusive as we could make them. Everything is designed to support the imagery and to tell the story of Operation Overlord and Operation Neptune.
Favorite details: The mini sheet of five stamps covers the five key beaches of the Normandy landings: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Each of the five stamps includes a graphic representation of the relevant stretch of coastline, giving each beach a geographical context, which is expanded upon in more detail on the carrier sheet. We’re especially proud that we were able to combine archive photography and graphic cartography in an elegant and appropriate way.
Visual influences: It was important to let the images speak for themselves. The events depicted are so historically significant that we all agreed to convey events in as uncluttered a way as possible. All of the images are tritones: black and white plus an additional third color. This ensures that the imagery is a rich, clear and readable. So, the imagery influenced the design solution more than any other aspect. It guided all of our decisions.
Anything new: Our knowledge of this particular period in history has inevitably broadened in the process of the project’s delivery.