The Royal Mail Year Pack is the feisty little brother of the Year Book. It includes all the past year’s pictorial stamps, plus a quick run-down on the subject that inspired them. This is the tenth one I’ve written, and while it’s not a Marathon like the Year Book, it’s still a testing 1500 metres. You have around 200 words to cover anything from Space Science to Charles Dickens to British comics.

Which means keeping the words punchy yet informative, finding an interesting angle, and casting a small but incisive spotlight on the subject in hand. For the designer, it’s an equally demanding task. They need to encapsulate the visual spirit of 100 or so stamps on the front and back of a simple fold-out. This year, Magpie Studio did a sterling job of not only of bringing such disparate material together, but also in expressing a sense of British pride in the year of the Golden Jubilee and the Olympic Games. Debut Art Illustrator James Taylor was commissioned to create a vivid collage directly on to a full-sized traditional cast-iron post box by hand. Fizzing with interest and colour, it’s an amazing achievement, with pop-art echoes of Peter Blake and a wonderfully on-trend retro feel. Of the ten Year Packs I’ve contributed to, this one has to be right up there, a considerable achievement considering the stiff competition from top design talent over the years. You can get your hands on the Royal Mail Year Pack and the Royal Mail Year Book (I wrote the introduction, design background stories and Christmas chapter for this) on the Royal Mail website. They’ll post it to you as soon as possible. And check the first-ever animated .gif ever to feature on the totalcontent blog below. A spinning pop-art post box – how very appropriate. Nice write up on the Design Week blog too.

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