Illustrator feels privileged to create last Xmas stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth

Katie Ponder sought inspiration for Nativity collection from vibrant stained glass windows

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An annual feature of British life, the Royal Mail’s Christmas stamps arrive this year with one last silhouette of the late Queen Elizabeth II and a fresh emphasis on colour in the illustrator's rendering of the Nativity scene.

The birth of Jesus is meticulously illustrated in the tiny rectangles that are responsible for traversing Christmas wishes and love to friends and family across the world.

The artist behind these designs is Katie Ponder, an award-winning illustrator from London who now resides by the sea in Kent, in south-east England.

“When I found out the stamps were going to go out into the world I was completely blown away, it was a really big honour,” Ponder told The National.

The six-stamp collection is the last Christmas collection to feature the silhouette of the queen, before being replaced by that of her son King Charles III.

The queen, whose outline was impressed upon Christmas stamps for more than 50 years, was also responsible for approving the stamps before her death in September.

“It feels particularly poignant because I know that these stamps will mean even more to people than they would have before,” said Ponder.

“And knowing that the queen herself gave her approval of the stamps is pretty magical and mind blowing, it feels like a historically significant moment.”

Ponder worked with Rory Bradley from Baxter & Bailey design team to create with colourful, Art Deco style illustrations.

She was one of 10 artists initially selected, before finding out at last Christmas that her designs had been chosen.

The nativity story is told chronologically across the six stamps, starting with the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary on the 2nd class stamp, and ending with the three wise men guided by the Star of Bethlehem on the most expensive stamp.

Illustrator Katie Ponder sought to create designs that are "almost glowing". Photo: Royal Mail

Each stamp also has a barcode which customers can scan on the Royal Mail app to watch a festive video of Shaun The Sheep, created by Aardman Studios.

For the illustrator, whose sister was born on Christmas Day, the hope was to evoke the “joy and celebration” associated with Christmas.

“Christmas is a time when colour is especially important, you’ve got all the beautiful decorations and fairy lights,” Ponder said.

“I drew a lot of inspiration from stained glass windows, which are often in jewel colours … I wanted it to look like they were almost glowing, there was an element of rays of light coming out of stars and I hope that gives it a sparkly quality.

“Regardless of your religious background, even if you are not Christian, I hope the sense of excitement of this miracle birth brings a feeling of hope, new life and a force of positivity coming into our world.”

Updated: November 21, 2022, 1:23 PM