a pean to Paddington.

OK, I’m a little tardy with this one, but as you may have noticed, lately I’ve been busy working on another book, 'Logo Rhythm’.

Having said that, contributing to the Royal Mail Year Book has been one of the highlights of my working year for more than two decades. Over the years, I've written six entire Year Books — including a D&AD Graphite Pencil-winner for Writing for Design in 2010.

These days, I get to interview all the stamp designers and describe the stories behind their creative processes. And sum up the book’s theme and contents in a tidy 300 words. It's a perennially fascinating project and welcome chance to catch up with friends and colleagues.

Last year, I was also commissioned to write the Paddington chapter, with a focus on the pioneering work of animator Ivor Wood, the visual magician who directed the eponymous 1970s stop-frame series and was the driving force behind ‘Magic Roundabout'

Wood’s captivating five-minute mini-stories were a brave, ambitious and truly original mashup of 2D and 3D animation that, on paper (or at least card), should never have worked. But they did. And how. Pre-computer, these immaculate stop-frame vignettes were astonishingly labour-intensive, each split second lavished with love, attention and artistry.

It was a real pleasure to research and relay this perhaps less appreciated side of the Paddington canon. And to have my words so beautifully presented by the talented Common Curiosity team, who designed the Year Book. Thanks to them and the wonderful Royal Mail design team for asking me along for the ride.

‘Royal Mail Year Book 2024’ is available here. It uses the idea of stamp perforations as metaphorical portholes. Miniature circular windows through which we catch a glimpse of the British way of life. Our culture, our history, our achievements, our landscape and our people.

This visual conceit is used to bring to life the stamps featured in Royal Mail’s 2023 philatelic programme, as well as the subject matter that inspired them.

click to download pdf.