The first Finnish stamps of the year celebrate the World Design Capital, Helene Schjerfbeck, the Sámi culture and Valentine’s Day


The Finnish stamp year 2012 will start on January 23 with the release of a set of four publications. The stamps celebrate the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 project, Helene Schjerfbeck’s 150th anniversary and the brand new Sámi Cultural Centre SAJOS in Inari in Finnish Lapland. The January stamp set will be supplemented by a traditional Valentine’s Day release.

Seven new designers

The Future City stamp booklet, which celebrates Helsinki’s position as the World Design Capital, presents seven new stamp designers who were awarded in the open design competition organized online in spring 2011. The highly popular competition produced a total of 1,422 designs, of which the jury and the public selected eight for the final stamp booklet.

The competition winners include professionals in graphic design, amateur designers and two children. The eight designs awarded in the competition were:

  • Future City by Chloe Chapeaublanc, a French graphic designer;
  • Onnela by Sini Henttonen, a student of textile art and design from Helsinki;
  • Citykani by Katja Hynninen, a textile designer from Tampere;
  • Kaupungin liike by Daniel Kallsrtöm, a schoolboy from Helsinki;
  • Asenne by Ville Korhonen, a graphic designer from Lahti;
  • Tulevaisuus rohkeana by Elias Ollila, a 6-year-old boy from Espoo; and
  • Color Power and Mix by Varpu Kangas, a freelance graphic designer from Helsinki. 

A surprisingly large number of designs with a nature theme were presented in the competition. Through her Citykani stamp, Katja Hynninen wanted to illustrate an animal adapted to urban conditions. - A rabbit utilizes the available space efficiently, raises discussion and will eventually blend into the everyday landscape, Hynninen says.

All designs entered in the competition can be viewed at the competition site at Design agency Kokoro & Moi turned the awarded works into stamps. In addition to new stamps, the impressive eight-page booklet illustrates the World Design Capital and is suitable as a gift or keepsake.

Schjerfbeck’s four works in a stamp

The year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of artist Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946). In honor of the anniversary, a booklet of four self-adhesive stamps designed by Teresa Moorhouse depicting her works will be released. The theme of the cover and one stamp is Self-Portrait, Black Background, an artwork based on Schjerfbeck’s famous self-portraits from 1915.

The School Girl II from 1908 represents the artist’s modernist style where an impact is highlighted through simplified details. Green Apples and Champagne Glass from 1934 represents Schjerfbeck’s accurate control of composition and color harmony. The lithograph Silk Shoes from 1938 typifies a central theme of the artist’s decades-long career – dancing shoes.

The background of the stamps depicts a staircase at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki where an exhibition of Schjerfbeck’s work will be organized from June 1 to October 14, 2012.

A new center and stamp for Sámi culture

Sámi culture is celebrated with a four-stamp miniature sheet, shaped after the floor plan of the Sámi Cultural Centre SAJOS that will be opened in Inari on January 9, 2012. Located by Juutuanjoki River, SAJOS is a center for the Finnish Sámi administration and culture where events, congresses and meetings can be organized.

The Sámi Culture sheet was illustrated by Sámi artist Merja Aletta Ranttila. The layout has been produced by Markku Virtanen from Lapland. The self-adhesive stamps are shaped like mountains.

The troll-drum-patterned sheet illustrates the three daughters of the Sámi Mother Doddess, a reindeer village and lean-tos.


Six symbols for friendship

This year's Valentine's Day stamps are designed by Päivi Unenge, a Finnish illustrator living in Sweden. The miniature booklet called I Heart You! contains six self-adhesive stamps and motifs including little girls, birds, pets, and, naturally, hearts.

- The heart symbolizes friendship – be it between friends or lovers. Friendship is vital, and friends carry all joys and sorrows. I hope that these cheerful and colorful stamps bring joy to people in the middle of the darkest winter, says artist Päivi Unenge


Further information:

Technical data of Finnish stamps released on January 23, 2012 (pdf)

Sámekulturguovddáš Sajos oažžu iežas poastamearkka (pdf)

Das finnische Samen-Kulturzentrum Sajos bekommt eine eigene
Briefmarke (pdf)
Technische Daten der am 23.01.2012 erscheinenden finnischen Briefmarken (pdf)

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Image material for the media

Word Design Capital Helsinki 2012, Future City stamps.

The year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of artist Helene Schjerfbeck (FDC).

This year's Valentine's Day stamps are designed by Päivi Unenge.