I have to be honest, I'm not usually a very "news" kind of person. I only read about the things that interests me. To be more specifically, most of them are either design or food related.
Recently, one of the most discussed topics in Taiwan caught my eye. It is the debate about a recent stamp design for the Taiwanese upcoming presidential inauguration. The design was created by the same design team who has done the election campaign, Aaron Nieh Workshop. Personally, I've never been a huge fan of their works. However, as a designer myself, I do respect what they do, therefore, most of the time, I just keep the thoughts to myself. However, this time, there's just an urge (still not sure why) that I wish to just put my thoughts out there.
Before I go deeper, firstly, I'd just like to clarify that I am not a stamp expert, all of the comments below are based on my personal interest and years of professional experiences in visual design.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the designs (let it speaks for itself? :P )
So, what do you think?
Let's hear from the designer first. According to Nieh's Facebook, the concept of the stamp sets are as below:
The stamps feature either pixelated faces or simple line drawings of the president and the vice president. The fresh modern aesthetic captures the down-to-earth spirit of a new generation of leaders.
Under the conception of “standing with the people,” the souvenir sheet places the president and the vice president amid icons representing people of all backgrounds and walks of life. These icons make references to a variety of occupations, genders, social roles, and ethnic groups, drawing attention to issues of equality.
In comparison, here are some of the ones from previous years:
One of the major differences is that the National Flag was removed from the design. The explanation for it was because 'the pixelated effect will distort the flag image itself'. I'm not so convinced by the reason– how do you think? Why not add in some reference to the colors or even a symbolic representation of Taiwan, then? I'm not saying that it should be the 'Jade Mountain' or the 'Office of the President' (btw, this is a side note, but I never realized what the English name for 總統府 is?! Seems quite weird though). Just some indication for allowing people to recognize which country the stamps are from would be good. After all, the stamps are 'well-travelled' to various countries, and being able to use it as a means to communicate to others in foreign countries, making first impressions are always important.
My point is that, there's nothing wrong about the concept of "building box" and "congregating together as individuals". However, the design is lacking hints of 'representation' of Taiwan. It was as if the stamps could be from anywhere. I appreciate the innovative thinking and seeking for changes in the current environment. However, I still do firmly believe that as designers, one cannot just design for design's sakes.
The reasons still needs to be more convincing.
P.S. In the bottom section, I've also included some of the other inspirations for similar 'geometric/pixelated' designs which I thought are nicely done in details.
***English and Mandarin content are not direct translation.***
最近鬧得沸沸揚揚的總統就職郵票，設計出自於聶永真團隊。我不否認，一直以來我對於他的設計一直不以為意，也不知道到底為何台灣人總是愛亂「造神」— 彷彿只要套上「聶永真設計」就是「包準大賣」的保證。不過，我對於他在台灣設計界所帶來的一些正向改變，正如聶在臉書上所說：Change is Good，這點他倒是做的實至名歸。撇開設計風格不說，能夠將設計不僅娛樂商業用途，更帶入公家單位，這點不是任何一位設計師所能辦到的。
Happy to chat more!