COURTESY IMAGE / CLARENCE LEE DESIGN
This is a mock-up of the stamp, designed by Clarence Lee Design & Associates, and illustrated by Katie Doka, that was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Stamp of approval
A local designer's project is for the 2008 Olympics
When talking about his work, renowned local designer Clarence Lee often thinks of his father.
His latest project in particular has made him proud.
Clarence Lee Design & Associates was asked by the U.S. Postal Service to design a stamp for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Because of the cultural ties, the project felt personal.
Education was important to Lee's father, who worked as a butcher in McCully when he arrived in Hawaii from China. The stamp, along with the rest of his work, stems from his father's encouragement.
"I wish he could've seen my success," Lee, 72, said. "I was just lucky to have a father who worked very hard to educate us."
The stamp, drawn by Oregon-based artist Katie Doka, depicts a gymnast surrounded by ribbon-like elements. Lee gave the sketch a Chinese paper-cutting design.
"We realized they wanted a Chinese concept," Lee said. "We started with the paper-cut artwork. And we also did brush drawings."
Other designs included a swimmer and a diver, each done with the paper-cut and brush designs.
"Even the 41 cents on it was designed with a Chinese chop," Lee said, describing the carved stamp often used for signatures and seals.
Clarence Lee Design, now owned by a Japanese company, was tapped for the Olympic stamp because he was commissioned to design symbols for the Chinese zodiac in the early 90s.
Stamps featuring Olympic themes have been popular with collectors since the first modern Olympiad. To help finance the games, Greece issued 12 Olympic-themed commemoratives in 1896, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
Lee said the stamp is another footnote in a long career of graphic design. The company's many clients include state agencies, Zippy's Restaurants and Ala Moana Center.
"I'm just grateful for a long run," said Lee, who remains a consultant for the company.