USPS Makes Licensing an Art Form

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As part of a plan to intensify licensing opportunities, the U.S. Postal Service is to begin selling artwork today based on its stamps.


The prints, from about 300 current postage stamps, will be sold at www.postalartgallery.com. The art, which can be custom framed and matted, will sell for $39 to $500. It will not have the perforation around it that stamps have, and most will not include typography, such as the cost of the stamp.


This is the first time the USPS has sold this type of stamp imagery.


The Web site will be run by ArtSelect Inc., Fairfield, IA (www.artselect.com), which is a USPS licensee. ArtSelect is the largest supplier of framed and unframed art for the online consumer and business-to-business markets through wholesale and online network partners. ArtSelect hosts and supplies art for some large online and offline direct marketers including Office Depot, Eddie Bauer, Amazon, target.com and Domestications.


Customers will buy the art through the Web site, and ArtSelect will collect the sale. The USPS will receive a percentage of the sale per agreement.


To promote the site, "we encourage our [licensing partners] to do a lot of direct mail," said Pam York, manager of the licensing group at the USPS. She said that the USPS also will promote the site in opt-in messaging it sends to customers who visited the postal service's postal store at www.usps.com/store.


York said that the USPS expects to add millions of dollars in licensing revenue through this and other efforts.


"The postal service is trying to come up with some new and creative ways to leverage our assets," she said, "and this agreement represents part of this new vision for licensing in which we are going to leverage our core product, our stamps, in new and different ways."


This is not the first licensing venture for the USPS.


"The postal service has always had some elements of a licensing effort, but mostly we have done collectibles, [where we] have taken a very traditional-looking image of a stamp and put that on a collectible plate or envelope," York said. "We've done this for many years, but the opportunity now is to take that stamp image and take it out of the box and do something new with it."


In the past year, she said, the postal service has put all of its licensing "under one umbrella, which includes trademark licensing, stamp art, image licensing, photography, post office murals." The division has increased licensing revenue 139 percent in the past six months.


Earlier this year, for example, the USPS signed a deal with Pioneer Balloons, a manufacturer of Mylar balloons that are sold in party stores and other outlets. Pioneer now sells balloons with replicas of actual stamps on them, such as birthday or holiday stamps.


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