There really is a commemorative day for everything under the sun. Don’t believe me, then head over to Wikipedia and look at the list—you’ll find everything from Star Wars Day to Towel Day, Turtle Day to Lighthouse Day. Polish graphic designer and partner of design studio UVMW Warsaw, Jacek Walesiak, became so fascinated scrolling through the list of strange, unlikely holidays that he decided to create his own celebratory stamps in commemoration. He’s called the project “The Calendar of Unusual Holidays,” and he draws on Polish postage stamp designs from the ’60s and ’80s to create his imaginary, contemporary sets.
“In my opinion, the current state of postage stamp design in Poland is at a very low level,” says young Walesiak, who recently graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.
“We need to remember that this is a medium that reaches a multitude of people every single day.”
The project is informed by designs from classic Polish image makers like Henryk Chyliński, Wojciech Freudenreich, and Karol Śliwka, as well as the Instagram feed @Grafilately—where the Canadian creative director Blair Thompson uploads pictures of stamps from around the world each day.
“I wanted the visual appeal to go hand in hand with its function and form,” explains Walesiak. “This is always crucial in the case of postage stamps.” This challenge meant creating a cohesive illustration that unified the set of stamps while still retaining something visually attractive when it came to the single unit. To do this, Walesiak has mostly stripped and transformed recognizable images into abstract patterns—Winnie the Pooh becomes a Swiss style amalgamation of color and shape to celebrate Pooh Day, and bright, Kenzo-esque patterns come together in L-shaped pairs for national Sock Day.
“There are so many strange holidays, like People Sleeping in the Subway Day or Winter Bike Commute Day, so I’m still continuing the project, and I hope to make more sets in the future,” says Walesiak.
Which is great, and hopefully a wake-up call to the Polish post, because while the graphic design coming out of Poland has historically been some of the best in the world, the country’s stamps are sadly lagging. I’d love to get a letter from Polish friends mailed using Walesiak’s work. It’s a charming project, and a lovely opportunity to spread the message and send great, local Polish contemporary graphic design that has a historical edge to far corners around the world.