Tlingit artist from Juneau designs stamp for US Postal Service

A black Tlingit designed eagle
The new USPS stamp designed by Tlingit artist Rico Lanáat’ Worl

The artwork of a Tlingit artist from Juneau will be featured on a new postage stamp set for distribution next year.

Rico Lanáat’ Worl is the founder of Trickster Company, a design shop based in Juneau that incorporates traditional Northwest Coast Art into everything from T-shirts and stickers, to skateboard decks and basketballs.

He said that an art director with the United States Postal Service named Antonio Alcala called him up one day.

“He had apparently discovered some of Trickster Company’s artwork at the National Museum of the American Indian’s giftshop in D.C. That’s sort of where our discussion began about making this design happen,” Worl said.

Worl decided to go with a scene from the traditional story of Raven setting free the sun, moon and stars for his design. He said he kept a national audience in mind.

“You know, there are so many depictions of Raven and the box of daylight story,” Worl said. “It almost felt a little bit silly to do it again, but I felt like it was an important story that gives a gateway for people to learn about Tlingit culture.”

His design depicts Raven escaping through the chimney as he is transforming back into human form. It’s an exciting and chaotic scene. There are stars stuck in his feathers and the sun is in his mouth.

Worl said he believes that the decision to include his artwork on a stamp is part of a wider movement for better representation of Native stories.

“I think the USPS is sort of in line with everyone else trying to figure out how to enable Indigenous people to tell their own stories. It’s just an honor to be able to be a part of that and to represent,” Worl said.

According to Sealaska Heritage Institute, the Postal Service had planned to unveil the stamp at Celebration 2020, but the event was canceled because of the pandemic. SHI is working with the agency to hold a release ceremony next year.