Tomorrow morning the United States Postal Service officially issues a new collection of Western Wear stamps. Abilene post offices are among the first to offer the set of Forever stamps, designed by a hometown artist.
At Abilene's downtown post office, most customers this afternoon say they rarely buy stamps. But they would spring for these new ones, designed by the city's own Ryan Feerer. "I love ‘em," customer Marjie Jones says of the four designs the boot is her favorite. "I think they're very beautiful and patriotic."
You can usually find Ryan Feerer's work on to-go cups for local coffee shops, cans of locally brewed beer and on some creative signs asking visitors not to smoke or skateboard near Abilene Christian University, where he teaches design.
But this, Feerer says, "It's probably the best project I'll ever get to work on." A former professor from the School of Visual Arts in New York City recommended him for the project nearly three years ago. "And, you know, I've had to keep my mouth shut about it for so long, so I'm really excited for them to be out in the world."
Feerer says the Postal Service committee overseeing the project basically gave him free reign. He finally settled on a pearl-snap shirt, a cowboy hat, a belt buckle, and a cowboy boot, "I started bringing in snakes, and spurs and the sun, cacti to help frame those primary illustrations on each stamp. So if you look really closely you'll probably see a few Easter eggs in there."
"I think they really demonstrate Texas," said John Dunlap, the officer in charge of the Abilene Post Office. "I think anybody from Texas takes a look at these and, especially with how Abilene's improving downtown, and you see a lot of this. Everybody's going back toward the old western feel and the old rustic look and. I think it's awesome!"
The U.S. Postal Service must be confident that they'll be popular. They've printed a first run of 175 million. Dunlap, who just took the helm of the Abilene post office, says he's planning to invite Feerer to the downtown location for a celebration, "We're gonna blow the stamp up, or this part of it right here that shows all four stamps and give it to him as a gift to show our appreciation and how proud we are of him getting this done."
That celebration will be meaningful to Feerer who says his family's been so proud, "My grandfather, he was a postmaster for about 23 years in a small town in New Mexico called Logan. And that was really special for me to be able to work on something that had some loose ties to my family history, so I wanted them to be perfect."
After many late nights obsessing over every little dot and detail, Feerer says he's happy with the final version, and he looks forward to sending a lot of mail this year.
Feerer and other stamp fans may want to stock up on the Western Wear collection. The price of Forever stamps is set to increase from $.55 to $.58 at the end of August.