Stamps for Somalia:
illuminating a nation How do you define a country’s design aesthetic? For recent graphic design graduate Kaamil Haider, it starts with a postage stamp. On display at the 2017 Graphic Design Senior Showcase, Haider’s senior exhibit, “Stamps of Somalia: Illuminating a Nation,” explored Somalia’s design style through the creation of original postage stamps. How did you come up with the idea for your exhibit? “Ever since I first started studying graphic design, I have been intrigued by how many design and art movements certain countries have undergone. My interest made me question the absence of Somali design aesthetics in the design history books and the absence of it in my study. It was this void that led me to create “Stamps of Somalia.” The exhibit is my attempt to find a project with which I could channel my thoughts about Somali design aesthetics.” Why did you decide to design stamps and what imagery did you use?
“A stamp, irrespective of its time and space, communicates with the viewer and user a specific history, geography, people, and culture. It is a miniature motif that illuminates a certain ethos and character of a group and place. Though small, stamps
are primary ingredients in building a state What message do you hope people will take and unifying a group of people. Therefore, I away from your project? knew all images for the stamps had to be cultural and national so that all Somalis in the “As Somalia assumes leadership in its world could recognize and be proud of them. political affairs, we need to remember that every one of us is responsible for “A stamp, irrespective of its imagining ways we can help rebuild Somalia. How a letter gets to and from time and space, communicates Somalia is as fundamental as creating with the viewer and user a security. It is a sign of stability, peace, and specific history, geography, pride that will move people to do great people, and culture.” things in their country.” —Kaamil Haider To capture those characteristics of what connects Somalis globally, I designed five stamp categories: 1. Historical and national monuments 2. Regional/state maps 3. The alphabet of the Somali language 4. Religious and cultural artifacts 5. Common animals found in Somalia” What’s your favorite stamp design? “Under the religious and cultural artifact category for the stamp project, I drew the Somali stool (Gambar). The image depicts the Gambar that I created for another exhibit. In addition, I vividly remember using the stool when I was a kid in Somalia. Due to those reasons, the stool design is my favorite.”
What else have you been working on? “Together with a few friends of mine, we created a collective Somali visual artists’ exhibition in 2016 called “Anomalous Expansion” made possible through Somaal House of Art. Acting as the exhibition designer, I also participated in the exhibition as a contributing artist and created two video installations and a sculpture, together called ‛Of Rituals and Rote.’” Where can people see your stamp designs? “For now, my stamps live under an Instagram account (@SomaliStamps) and soon I will publish a website that will host the stamp designs.” Images courtesy of Kaamil Haider. COLLEGE OF DESIGN SPRING 2017 9
Stories about alumni, students, and faculty at the University of Minnesota College of Design.