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San Francisco Artist Designs US Olympic Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service has dedicated a new stamp to commemorate next month's Olympics in a ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The new stamp was designed by a California artist and is the only stamp the Postal Service will issue to mark the 2006 Winter Games.

The stamp, conceived by San Francisco-based graphic designer John Mattos, depicts a skier cutting into a turn at full speed.

The Olympic rings and "USA" are in the upper right hand corner with "2006 Olympic Games" in the lower right. Mattos, who won the gold medal from the New York Society of Illustrators, says three years ago he contacted the Postal Service with some examples of his work, and one week later, he had the contract.

"I was reading a magazine and realized that the names of all the people on the board that decides who does stamps were in this one magazine article," he said. "And so I looked them up, they live all over the United States, and I sent them a letter, and it took seven days. So the next Monday they called and said, 'Would you like to do this project?'"

The stylized female skier wears a blue and white uniform, the colors of the Turin Olympics. The stamp is worth 39 cents to reflect the recent two cent increase in the price of a first class letter mailed within the United States.

David Failor is the executive director of Stamp Development for the Postal Service. He told VOA Sports that Mattos's design caught the attention of the Service's art directors, and they are very pleased with the result.

"Well, I think that as far as the image goes, it is a wonderful image," he said. "It really, in my mind, captures a lot of the speed and the grace that you associate with the Winter Olympics, especially downhill skiing. And the colors, it is just a great looking stamp. It is going to be a great part of our program this year."

John Mattos says that his biggest challenge in designing the stamp was creating the image since no specific athlete, sponsor or sports equipment could be featured.

"The main thing I was thinking was 'keep it simple.' There are not that many edges and defined things about it," he explained. "Whenever I could eliminate something, I tried to eliminate it. It sort of became a little game to see how much of it I could take out and still convey the image."

The Turin Olympics commemorative stamp is available for public purchase through Post Offices in the United States and online at the Postal Service's Internet site,