Stamping Artistry: Muralist MasPaz Makes USPS History

Sofia Jones
 | October 13, 2023

Credit: U.S. Postal Service/AP

In a first, the United States Postal Service introduced skateboard-centric stamps. One of the four “skateboarding” designs features the artistic contributions of Artist MasPaz (Federico Frum), a muralist originally from Colombia and now based in the Washington, D.C. area.

MasPaz’s black, white, and gold “jaguar” design on a skateboard deck debuted on the new “Art of the Skateboard” Forever stamps, revealed by the U.S. Postal Service during a first-day-of-issue event at the Desert West Skate Park.

This is nothing new for the government agency which, for years, has been releasing postage stamps highlighting Hispanic culture and showcasing prominent Hispanic American figures.

“As an American institution older than our country itself, the Postal Service is always looking for ways to highlight and honor the stories and histories that are unique to the United States,” said William Zollars, a member of the USPS Board of Governors.

Launching alongside the commencement of PHXAM 2023, an annual amateur skateboarding competition drawing participants from across the globe, the dedication ceremony marked the official debut of the stamps. The stamps showcased artistic skateboard decks adorned with bold, vibrant designs that vividly capture the excitement, diversity, and rebellious spirit inherent in skateboarding culture.

This was quite a feat for an orphan from Colombia.

MazPaz’ Journey to D.C.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Frum – his chosen pseudonym MasPaz, translating to “more peace” in Spanish – was adopted by a North-American family and raised in the Washington, D.C. area.

“In his home, his mother hung Colombian tapestries; he was fascinated by their bold lines and vibrant shapes,” the Smithsonian explains. “… and they gave him a closer understanding to his Colombian roots and ancestors. His Latin American heritage plays a huge role in his art today.”

A graduate of George Mason University with a degree in art and visual technology in 2005, Frum’s journey led him to Brooklyn a year post-graduation. During his seven-year stay, he balanced street-side T-shirt sales with pursuits in 3D modeling and screen printing.

Venturing through South America, he eventually returned to Arlington, Va., in the D.C. area, where he currently operates from his residence in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood.

“I started kind of playing with this indigenous typography kind of style, which wasn’t graffiti letters but more like line work letters,” Frum told the outlet ArlingtonNow about his early graffiti tagging days during a trip to Brazil. “ kind of looked like maybe Mayan hieroglyphic lines with actual letters. So that was really fun.”

Through it all, Frum hasn’t forgotten where he came from, with a percentage of all his project earnings going toward the orphanage that he lived in as a child, La Casa de La Madre y El Nino, as reported by ArlingtonNow.

Celebrating Hispanic Influence

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the government agency, is implementing a 10-year transformation plan, Delivering for America, “to modernize the postal network, restore long-term financial sustainability, dramatically improve service across all mail and shipping categories, and maintain the organization as one of America’s most valued and trusted brands.”

Highlighting the young sport of skateboarding, and artists like MasPaz, is part of this 10-year plan.

To explore more stamps highlighting Hispanic Americans, the public is invited to visit the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum online. The National Postal Museum’s new virtual exhibition, “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: People, Places and Events on Stamps,” is now available for viewing on the museum’s website.

The exhibition showcases every U.S. Postal Service-issued stamp commemorating Hispanic communities’ contributions to American culture, including this year’s “Art of the Skateboard” stamp by MasPaz.

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