The Olathe Poste - Artistamps: Great Art That Was Meant To Be Licked

The NIPA Series
Nudes In Postal Art
W. C. "Bill" Porter
The Olathe Poste

NIPA No. 1 - bearing our life long belief, Photography IS ArtI was raised in an artistic family. Luckily for me, my parents took me, along with my sister through many of the great art museums that the western states had to offer when I was growing up. How many art museums alone were a part of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s? I don't know. But I grew to appreciate all forms of art. The human body, clothed or not, included. And while I firmly believe that about the only thing that surpasses the female form for beauty and challenge is a sunrise or sunset. I prefer to try and capture the femine form and it's beauty -- which I've been doing off and on since 1971.

The inspiration to create the NIPA series of artistamps came from several directions originally. But one of the strongest compelling reasons why I created and continue the series is because of the censorship imposed upon the public, both the American public and the world, by the United States Postal Service. The censorship is subtle, but it exists. With but one, very short-lived exception, the U.S. has never issued a postage stamp bearing a nude image.

That exception, as many of you visiting here may already know, resulted from the United States postal authorities taking a very "holy-er than thou" attitude with the rest of the world in the early 1930's when envelopes bearing Spain's new postage stamp of their queen, nude, painted by the Spanish painter, Goya, wasn't even allowed in this country. Letters and envelopes bearing the stamp were returned - rejected. After catching so much grief from -I presume- Spain and other countries, the US Postal Department did then allow mail bearing Spain's stamp into the United States and did issue a similar stamp with the same image by Goya. But it was only on sale for a very few days. I've never seen any reference to it in official publications of the Post Office either. So as you might guess, these were two compelling enough reasons to "tweak the nose" of the government, so-to-speak, and have a chance to create beautiful stamps at the same time.

NIPA #15


NIPA #15 - Issued 14Sept2003

In this fast paced world of ours, with email doing it's best to take top honors in the way humans correspond with one another. There's still nothing better than receiving a card or letter from a loved one. It usually always gives us cause to stop what we're doing, and read the mail. The connotation used to emphasize this on the NIPA #15 FDC was:

Communicating & Writing Are Skills
Correspondence Is An Art
Don't Lose The Art

NIPA #14


NIPA #14 - Issued 12Feb2003

As luck would have it, besides wanting to have something special to send out on Valentine's Day cards to some friends. NIPA #14 was the next number in sequence and perfectly coincided with Valentine's Day and the 14th of February. FDC/Valentines went out on the 12th of February to arrive at destinations on the 14th.
(Stamp original printing date: 05Feb2003)
NIPA #13


NIPA #13 - Issued 18Jan2003

The image for NIPA #13 was actually a test shot to check our lighting setup during the photographic session. But upon inspection of the image, everything was so "right," we (the model, my assistant, and myself) knew that NIPA #13 would be fabulous. We ended the day's photo session right then and there.
NIPA #12


NIPA #12 - Issued 18Jan2003

As with NIPA thirteen, NIPA #12 resulted from the final photograph made during the photo session. Although the original image was made in color, it carries much more impact and enhances the beauty of the model, I think, in black and white. But for the stamp, NIPA #12 coloration's were digitally manipulated for aesthetics of the faux postage stamp itself.
NIPA #11


NIPA #11 - Issued 18Jan2003

For that fleeting moment in time when you as a photographer can see the "pose" developing and you know it's time to trip the shutter on the camera. So it was the day we were photographing Tiffany for NIPA #11. Her youth, her beauty, and all elements for composition of grace and feminine form were captured. Even the texture of the gown is conveyed in the miniature image of the stamp.
NIPA #10


NIPA #10 - Issued 04Jan2003

A mail art deadline with the theme, Coffee, was fast approaching. So coffee was the theme of the day when the models arrived. For the mail art call, the full image was used to make a photo postcard with the stamp augmenting that. For the stamp, the original black and white photograph was posterized, mirrored, and the coffee cup was cropped out for the square stamp format.
(FDC's for NIPA #10 were issued on 18Jan2003 - Primarily printed on white, glossy dry-gum paper, NIPA #10 was also issued on blue, orange, and goldenrod dry-gummed papers for Clemente Padin's Southern Poste artistamp call, published in Uruguay.)


NIPA #09 - Issued 28Dec2002

Form, light, and shadows depicted as they can only be in black and white was the concept in the design and development of NIPA #9. The overall comments from other mail artists have been; "..great ass!" While a collector of fine art made the comment one day that I was trying to imitate the style of Helmut Schmitt. Until he said that, I had never even thought about Schmitt's style of photography. I had to make a trip down to the library to look for myself.

View NIPA #9 First Day Cover

NIPA #8a


NIPA #08a - Issued 01Dec2002

The black and white image of NIPA #8a was made months earlier than release of the stamp. There really weren't any plans by me to make a stamp from the image, at least in 2002. But at the request of the model, who I'd given one of the b&w prints to. She especially liked the image and wanted a stamp for her own use on Christmas cards. NIPA #8a was then issued as a limited edition.


NIPA #08 - Issued 14Apr2002

Both stamps, NIPA #8 and #7 were results of the same photographic session. Which was prioritized by an artists call for erotic postcards by Larry Reynolds (AKA Punwit). While there were a few images lurking in the back of my mind for creating specifically for the call. The photo session was also just to have fun with a variety of lighting techniques and, all photographs were made in black and white.


NIPA #07 - Issued 14Apr2002

NIPA #7, as noted above, was photographed in black and white. The image was colorized in sepia for the stamp. It should also be noted that first day covers were not officially sent out for NIPA #7 and #8. But several postcards made from clear, corrugated plastic were mailed out to selected recipients, bearing both stamps.
NIPA #6a - Commemorating Ken Kast Coyote Calls


NIPA #06a - Issued 08May2002

In May of 2001, a friend and resident of Olathe, Ken Kast, joined forces with me to begin producing a coyote call, a howler to be precise. Ken is a very fine craftsman in all that he does. His workmanship on our howlers made from cow horn were nothing less than magnificent. Thinking ahead on the day I photographed NIPA #6, I made sure that I had one of our howlers with me and made the image that day for this stamp. Commemorating the first year of production by Ken of what is, as you can plainly see, a fine work of art.


NIPA #06 - Issued 26Feb2002

The original photograph for NIPA #6 was made in late December of 2001. A mild, yet cool and sunny day, just right for an outdoor photo session. To somewhat convey the feeling of cold, NIPA #6 was converted from color to a monochromatic blue. Appropriate for release of the stamp in February when winter is in full swing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The FDC's issued for NIPA #6 were primarily mailed to members of the AMLP. Making a brief announcement on the BBS that anyone desiring one, should merely respond with an email. But, I also advertised this as "double stamp Wednesday." In bold, NIPA fashion, there was a second stamp released along with NIPA #6 but never actually brought in to the NIPA series. You can view it here.




NIPA #05 - 15Feb2002

Because of several bouts with cancer by my best friend and spouse, Kathy Lou, over the past 5 or 6 years. I've spent an enormous amount of time in San Diego, California enduring more cancer surgeries than I care to think of. One day while killing time, I spent the afternoon with my cameras at San Diego's Balboa Park. This ornate nude is part of one of the buildings there and because it's apparently made from cement, the viewers eye is not blinded by color and the form is extenuated by light and shadows.


Artistamp NIPA #4


NIPA #04 - 15Feb2002

A very limited edition artistamp designed especially for inclusion in Clemente Padin's Southern Post artistamp call. Clemente, as you may know, terminated the Southern Post after years of serving artistamp artists faithfully.

NIPA #3 NIPA #03 - Issued 19Jan2002

The image for NIPA #3 was made in the summer of 1974. But I wanted to do something with the image, one of very few that survived time and life since '74. NIPA #3, made solely for the fun of it can also be considered somewhat of an "error" stamp. In that I mixed the Spanish and French words for mail art. In Spanish it should read Correo Arte and, in French it should merely read Art de Postal. The stamp was re-released, slightly smaller 2Jun2002.


Image of artistamp NIPA No. 2 NIPA No. 2 - Issued 19Jan2002

The softness obtained in the original photograph made for NIPA #1 gives an aura of a painting. So while I'd fulfilled my desire to use the original image with the photography is art slogan, I still required something to fully inaugurate the NIPA artistamp series. Taking the "it looks like a painting" thought into the digital darkroom, the image was manipulated to appear more like a watercolor. Jas Felter, liked the stamp well enough to include it in his collection at the 5-Cinq museum which he operates in Vancouver, Canada.


NIPA No. 1 - bearing our life long belief, Photography IS Art NIPA No. 1 - Issued 19Jan2002

The image created for inaugurating the NIPA series had been floating around in my head for years. A nude nymph, peeking around a tree in a mystical forest. Perhaps scavanging, frollicking, or merely traversing the countryside. A desire of mine in the final execution of the image was wanting to use Mother Nature's finest lighting in the great outdoors to give it a surreal effect. When the day came to actually go out and attempt to create the photograph, I decided I also wanted to add a little more complexity to the task. Shoot the photograph with a digital camera. Which we did. Conventional transparencies were also made just to be safe. But as has been a firm, lifelong belief of mine. If it's done right, photography is art!


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The Olathe Poste
P.O. Box 707
Olathe, Colorado 81425
Telephone 970-252-1212 * FAX 970-252-1211

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