PERFORATE: A PHILATELIC HISTORY TOUR:
Stamp Design and Postal Ephemera by BRUCE LICHER
May 2nd through July 5th, 2014
How many people do you know who have designed and printed their own “postage” stamps? Bruce Licher has been doing just that for over thirty years. These miniature works of art, most of which have been hand-printed on vintage letterpresses in multiples on sheets or in booklets, attest to the beauty of this almost lost craft in the hands of a modern designer.
Bruce Licher began hand-letterpress printing record album covers and post cards for his band Savage Republic in early 1982. Intrigued by the conceptual possibilities of creating a series of faux-postal stamp designs for his musical group, he designed and printed postcards, stamps, and stamped envelopes picturing the flag and logo he had created for the band. In the process he crafted an aesthetic mystique unlike any other. Bruce’s concept extended to using these Savage Republic “postal” creations on all of the mail sent out from his Independent Project Records label during the 1980’s (alongside the appropriate amount of valid U.S. postage, of course), along with creating special stamps commemorating Savage Republic’s tours.
Following his philatelic creations for Savage Republic, Bruce designed and printed stamps for a number of other musical groups, including 1980’s British dance act Scritti Politti, the avant garde postpunk folk rock group Camper Van Beethoven, Licher’s mid-90’s group Scenic, and the UK’s masters of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music, Stereolab.
Bruce’s most recent stamp project is a set of two sheets of stamps which were originally printed for Savage Republic, but left unfinished when the band broke up in 1989. This year, after finding the unfinished sheets in storage, Bruce has completed the printing of the sheets, re-purposing them for SR2, the musical group that he and his wife Karen have recently started here in Bishop. Examples of these stamps and related record covers will be shown, along with other souvenir and promotional stamp designs created for clients of his design and letterpress printing business. Perhaps the most intriguing of these other designs is a series of souvenir stamp booklets, post cards and envelopes created for sale at the U.S. bases in Antarctica, featuring photographic images from the Seventh Continent.
Peter Gilstrap, writing in the Phoenix New Times about Bruce’s work, has said: “What Bruce Licher creates at Independent Project Press rides the line between “art” and “product.” The relatively small batches of album sleeves, postcards, stamps and other memorabilia that he produces are meticulously crafted, and are fed into the presses by hand, piece by piece. His combinations - austere photographic images, disparate mixes of Dada-esque typefaces, postage-stamp visions swathed in gold, silver and blood red - are instantly distinctive. Created inside Licher’s design ethos, something as potentially mundane as a business card emerges as a haunting work that seems antiquated yet vibrant and contemporary.”