Christmas starts early with the release of this year’s Christmas stamps on 20 October. Finnish illustrator Sami Saramäki debuts for Åland Post with a retro-inspired and poetic Christmas series. “I made several sketches, but those with small gnomes quickly became favourites, so, they became my focus point for the stamp motifs”, Sami reveals.
Christmas is the holiday when we send most greetings by post. Scandinavians’ image of Christmas celebrations has been influenced by the card motifs. Many Christmas symbols have been around since the first cards were imported from England and Germany in the 1800s, introducing foreign traditions such as gnomes, Christmas tree, and presents to the Nordic peoples. Swedish artist Jenny Nyström’s illustrations of gnomes and Åland descendant Haddon Sundblom’s drawings of Santa Claus in the 1930s have also contributed to our image of Santa and his little helpers.
For this year’s Christmas stamps, illustrator Sami Saramäki created a modern version of the classic gnomes. On one stamp, the gnomes are on their way to Åland with the Christmas mail, guided by the lighthouse on the island Sälskär, located northwest of main Åland. On the other stamp, they have taken a break from their delivery round at the 13th century St. Michael church in Finström.
Sami describes his creative process: “I started by researching which visual elements would be suitable for traditional stamps. Those with small gnomes quickly became favourites. Pondering on different settings for the gnomes, I liked the Finström church and Sälskär lighthouse. I made 3D models of the church and lighthouse on my computer to better understand their forms.”