Even if you don’t know his name, you probably know artist Michael Deas' work.
While he has paintings in the Smithsonian, you're most likely to have seen his art at the movies or perhaps in your own mailbox — Columbia Pictures and the United States Postal Service are his two biggest distributors.
Deas, 61, painted the portrait of former President George H.W. Bush being used on a commemorative stamp that debuts June 12, the 41st president's birthday.
It's Deas’ 23rd commission for the USPS, and preorders are available on the post office's website. The Forever Stamp stamps sells for 55 cents.
Bush's is the third presidential portrait Deas has done for the USPS. He painted Gerald Ford in 2007 and Ronald Reagan in 2005.
When it comes to painting presidents, surviving family members must OK the finished product. Nancy Reagan once rejected a stamp portrait of Ronald Reagan by another commissioned artist, and Deas said he was tapped to create a new one, which won the approval of the first lady.
“I like the intimacy of the small picture. There is something very personal about working at that scale,” said Deas, who creates the portraits on wood panels or heavy paper mounted on wood, usually 5 inches by 9 inches. The painting is then printed as a postage stamp less than an inch square.
Deas’ did his first portrait stamp — Tennessee Williams — in 1995. Other iconic figures followed: James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Katherine Anne Porter and Edgar Allan Poe.
During the 25 years Deas has produced art for commemorative stamps, the price of postage has gone up from 32 cents to today’s Forever Stamp for 55 cents.