Artist Lili Arnold leaves her mark on the world. Not really.

Arnold is the artist behind four new USPS postage stamps that became available this month at post offices across America.

“Seems appropriate for spring,” she said modestly of her bright and colorful patterns of Woods’ Rose, Pasqueflower, Alpine Buttercup and Wood Lily adorning a series of eye-catching Forever stamps.

Arnold, 33, grew up in Sonoma and now works out of her art studio in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where she juggles a career specializing in floral prints and raising 8-month-old Rocco with her husband Ryan .

Today, it counts among its customers the largest postal operator in the world.

It all started about two years ago, Arnold told the Index-Tribune. She was contacted out of the blue by a USPS representative who is looking for artists to create designs to present to the Postal Service. The contact, a woman named Ethel, had seen her floral prints on Instagram and thought they might translate nicely to a stamp around 1 inch square.

So Arnold created a handful of drawings and submitted them, knowing there was no guarantee anything would come of it. “Sometimes they pass it and it will happen – and sometimes it doesn’t,” said the 2007 Sonoma Valley High School graduate.

But, of course, earlier this year, Arnold received an email from Ethel telling him that the stamp would arrive in the spring of 2022. It was officially released on March 14, according to Arnold.

Designing a stamp presents its own sticky challenges, Arnold conceded.

“It was definitely very different from how I usually work,” she said of her typical 15-by-22-inch prints. “It’s much, much smaller and I wanted to be able to capture a similar feel in this format with the work I create in my own art, which is 100 times bigger.”

Or, 330 times bigger to be exact. So, after some experimental sketches on his iPad, Arnold created some initial drawings and was able to zoom in and out to see if their composition was properly balanced and to ensure that the details would still stand out in a small size. “I wanted to get an image that still looks like me, my art and my style.”

Clearly, his efforts paid off – and not just artistically. Although Arnold was careful to disclose the USPS compensation, which was a per-picture fee, she admitted it was “one of the most generous commissions I’ve ever worked on.” .

Arnold’s fate as an artist is perhaps unsurprising given that she grew up in a home of accomplished Sonoma artists. Her father, Chester Arnold, was a renowned artist and longtime art teacher at the College of Marin; while mum, Frances Arnold, is well known for her hand-sewn tapestries, watercolors and prints.

Despite her pedigree, she said that even during her teenage years and early college years, a future in art was more “subconscious” than a direction she was firmly committed to. “But then I realized that’s what I love to do,” Arnold said. “I grew up loving it and having that influence.”

She adds: “I am very aware of the origin of my interest in art.

Arnold then earned his art degree from UC Santa Cruz and eventually returned to this area to establish his career and raise a family.

Chester and Frances aren’t surprised their daughter’s “amazing prints and drawings” led to the USPS commission.

“As a family, we have always encouraged and shared creative endeavors of all kinds,” Chester said, adding that his daughter had “been driven by an unusual and positive creative force from an early age.” He hopes it’s a tradition that will continue with his grandson Rocco and “generations to come”.

Oh, and Lili’s stamp set graces “all of our outgoing mail,” Frances and Chester said.

Arnold currently has no new commissions from the USPS, but said she would be happy to work with them again.

“It’s not really mine,” she said. “However, if I’m ever contacted again to do a stamp project, I will definitely do it!”

The Lili Arnold postage stamp set is available at post offices and usps.com. A notecard set based on the images of the stamps is also available, as well as framed stamps and framed prints of the images. Check out more of Arnold’s work at liliarnold.com.