The work of a West Virginia artist has won the U.S. Postal Service's stamp of approval for a second time, with Friday's release of the new Bank Swallow Forever Stamped Envelope.The 58-cent stamped envelope features a large image of a bank swallow perched on a reed, and a smaller illustration of the burrowing bird in flight, by Charles Town artist Matt Frey.According to the Postal Service, nearly 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas are received each year, but only about 20 topics are deemed worthy of pursuing.In addition to illustrating the stamped envelope depicting the bank swallow, Frey illustrated the Postal Service's Purple Martin Forever Stamped Envelope in 2012.
Frey works for the Annapolis, Md., illustration studio Wood Ronsaville Harlin Inc. His work has appeared in National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines, in the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Air and Space Museum.The bank swallow, about five inches long, is the smallest swallow in North America, and can be found in every continent except Antarctica. The slender bird digs nesting burrows in riverbanks, gravel pit walls and highway cuts, and live in colonies ranging from 10 to 2,000 nests.Frey's illustrations of the bank swallow were based on photographs. The 58-cent Forever stamped envelopes are good for mailing one 9-ounce first class letters on any date in the future, regardless of postal price changes. They are only available online at www.usps.com/stamps, or by calling 800-782-6724.In addition to being an illustrator and graphic designer, Frey is a licensed master falconer and is a founding officer of the West Virginia Falconry Club and an officer in the Potomac Falconers Association, the nation's oldest falconry organization.