Story by David Thompson
Stamp Illustrations by John Dawson
If you’ve ever put a banana slug on a postcard, sent a sea otter to a friend or paid an electric bill with a cutthroat trout, you might be familiar with the work of Big Island illustrator John Dawson. He’s the artist behind the US Postal Service’s annual Nature in America stamp series, and wildlife from his drawing board has carried the US mail to postal addresses worldwide for the last twelve years. Until now the series has focused on bioregions far from the cluttered art studio in Dawson’s otherwise neat and orderly Hilo residence: the Sonoran Desert, the Arctic tundra, the Great Plains prairie and eight other ecosystems. But this year the stamps came home, with the spotlight turned on the Hawaiian rainforest and the life it sustains, including the fiery red ‘i‘iwi, or Hawaiian honeycreeper (left). Illustrating the ecosystem that edges up to his backyard has been a joy for the bespectacled, soft-spoken 73-year-old. “I think it’s one of my favorites,” he says.