Cool jobs: Postal Service stamp development manager

Monday - 7/12/2010, 6:42pm EDT

Terry McCaffrey

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The stamps you stick on letters and packages don't just appear. A team at the Postal Service is responsible for creating the small pieces of art that show you paid the price to send your mail.

Terry McCaffrey, Manager for Stamp Development at the Postal Service, joined me today as part of our "Cool Jobs in Government" series. His team sorts through the more than 50,000 letters the USPS receives every year, referring the appropriate suggestions for stamps to the Postmaster's Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee.

"I have four art directors who work for me, and I'm an art director too," Terry told me, and their collaboration is the first step in a new stamp design. "We come up with the designs, working with some leading illustrators; we take it back to the [Citizen's Stamp Advisory] Committee; then it's taken to the Postmaster General, and he [can] approve it."

Like the pizza baker that doesn't eat his own product, Terry told me he doesn't collect stamps himself. "It would really be a conflict of interest," Terry said. "I'd be seen as creating stamps for my own collection. But I have certain stamps that I've retained because of their unique nature, or ones I've personally designed."

The close relationship Terry has with each project that comes through his office can create a deeper bond than you might expect. "When I give talks, they will ask, 'what's your favorite stamp?' and I say, 'I really don't like to say that, because I consider them all my children - and I don't want to play favorites.'"