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Faculty Member Illustrates 2013 Lunar New Year Stamp

Kam Mak, assistant chair and professor of Illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), is igniting sparks with his latest artwork for the U.S. Postal Service Chinese Lunar New Year stamp series. To welcome the Year of the Snake, Mak’s design for 2013 features firecrackers alongside Chinese calligraphy and a snake cutout. “It is ritual and custom to light fireworks all night long to scare off the evil spirits so we will have a new start to the New Year,” said Mak about his artistic inspiration for this year’s stamp.

Mak was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 to create a series of 12 designs - one each year to celebrate the lunar zodiac - through 2019. This year’s stamp is the sixth in the series. Each stamp portrays one of the holiday’s traditional objects or rituals.

Kam Mak Lunar Stamp Design

“Many of the objects are important symbols rooted in my Chinese cultural tradition,” Mak says. “I grew up in New York’s Chinatown, and the Lunar New Year was the holiday that reminded me most of the home I left behind in Hong Kong. My mother would prepare traditional New Year’s foods and decorate our apartment with flowers and red paper inscribed with lucky words. I want these stamps to reveal the beautiful richness of my culture.”

Mak joined the FIT faculty in 1993. He is the recipient of the Society of Illustrators gold and silver medals, the Stevan Dohanos Award, the Art Directors Club silver medal, the Inspiration Award from APEX, and an Asian American Dynamic Achiever Award. He also has been honored with a proclamation from the New York City Council.

Mak’s work has been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Children’s Museum of the Arts, the Johnson Gallery at Somerset Art Association, and The Peck School. His work also has appeared in group exhibitions at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Katonah Museum of Art, Museum of American Illustration, Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, DFN Gallery, and Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement. He is the author and illustrator of My Chinatown, and he has illustrated several other children’s books, including The Dragon Prince.

The Illustration program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) blends tradition with technology, allowing students to study the creation of hand-drawn and computer-generated images. Unique to the program at FIT is its nine-course selection of state-of-the-art computer classes, and the option to specialize in either fashion or general illustration. FIT students have won more than 50 awards in recent years in highly competitive student art exhibitions, including the prestigious Society of Illustrators’ annual Student Scholarship Competition. FIT’s Illustration program courses, which lead to the AAS and BFA degrees, are taught by practicing artists who showcase their work in museums and galleries all over the world.

FIT is a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology, with a wide range of programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. The college offers more than 45 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees.

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