PORTLAND (AP) – A new stamp celebrating the African-American holiday Kwanzaa is the work of an artist and illustrator who moved to Maine last year.

The stamp, designed by Daniel Minter, was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in Chicago and is available nationally in panels of 20.

Minter, 43, began his design in 2002 while living in Brooklyn, N.Y. It represents the seven days of Kwanzaa and the principles they signify with seven figures in colorful robes.

“The design needed to express the values of a community, and that’s something I like to do in all of my work, whatever that community may be. I also want to influence my community and to show my community my values. This project really allowed me to do all of that,” he said.

Minter heard the Postal Service wanted to update the Kwanzaa stamp, which was first issued in 1997. He sent samples of his work, including a copy of a children’s book that he illustrated, “Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story.”

Minter, who works in many media, began the stamp illustration by carving the image on linoleum and then making a print, which he scanned into a computer. He added the colors in Photoshop.

Kwanzaa takes place over seven days beginning Dec. 26. Its name derives from the Swahili phrase “first fruits.”

The holiday celebrates the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Minter lives in Portland with his wife and 7-year-old son. They moved to Maine in September 2003, when his wife accepted a job with L.L. Bean.



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