Skip to main content
The Postal Store®

Mariachi

First Day of Issue Date: July 15, 2022

First Day of Issue Location: Albuquerque, NM

About This Stamp

Filled with passion, rhythm, and stories of life, love, and loss, mariachi music is an integral element of Mexican American culture that has found fans around the world.

Each of the five stamps features a musician dressed in traje de charro, the traditional outfit of mariachi performers, playing one of five iconic mariachi instruments: guitar, guitarrón, vihuela, violin, and trumpet. The geometric shapes in the background of each stamp are a nod to Mexican villages where mariachi music originated. The digital illustrations started as rough sketches on paper, with the textures and colors added digitally. The artist used vibrant colors that evoke Mexican culture and capture the buoyant yet nostalgic feeling of mariachi music.

“Mariachi” refers to several things: to the music itself; to an individual musician or an ensemble of musicians; and, used as an adjective, to anything identified with the music, be it dance or costume or culture.

Though mariachi’s exact origins are obscure, it appears to have begun in western Mexico, where itinerant musicians made their living traveling from village to village to perform. The music of early mariachi included folk traditions from Spain, Mexico, and Africa that melded to create a new indigenous musical form, the son, which developed various regional styles.

While mariachi music had been in the United States for many years, by the 1960s, American churches, schools, and universities began to develop and sponsor mariachi programs that produced new generations of musicians and enthusiasts. Immigrants to various parts of the U.S. created vibrant regional mariachi cultures that widened the appeal of this traditional music to new audiences. In addition, the American mariachi movement is being disseminated by first, second, and third-generation Mexican Americans as a way of expressing ethnic pride and of staying connected to their heritage.

Mariachi bands traditionally used the round-backed guitar called the vihuela, which gives the mariachi music its rhythmic vitality; the guitarrón, which is a bass guitar; and the Mexican folk harp, the arpaBy the 1940s and 1950s, the modern urban mariachi sound emerged with the expanded instrumentation including violins and trumpets. Today, ensembles continue to broaden the use of instruments, with some groups adding six to eight violins, two to four trumpets, an accordion, and the arpa, which had fallen out of use but has made a comeback among professional groups.

In recognition of the importance and widespread appeal of mariachi music and culture, in 2011, UNESCO added them to the list “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

Rafael López designed the stamps and created the art. Derry Noyes art directed the project.

The Mariachi stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps in panes of 20. These Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.

Stamp Art Director

Derry Noyes

For more than 40 years Derry Noyes has designed and provided art direction for close to 800 United States postage stamps and stamp products. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Hampshire College and a master of fine arts degree from Yale University.

Noyes worked as a graphics designer at Beveridge and Associates, a Washington, D.C., firm, until 1979 when she established her own design firm, Derry Noyes Graphics. Her clients have included museums, corporations, foundations, and architectural and educational institutions. Her work has been honored by American Illustration, the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington, Communication Arts, Critique magazine, Graphis, Creativity International, and the Society of Illustrators.

Before becoming an art director for the U.S. Postal Service, she served as a member of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee from 1981 to 1983.

Noyes is a resident of Washington, D.C.

Stamp Designer, Stamp Artist

Rafael López

Rafael López was born in Mexico City and was raised by his parents, both architects, in the rich visual heritage, music, and surrealism of his native culture. In 1985, he earned his B.F.A. from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California.

An internationally recognized illustrator and artist, López is a founder of the Urban Art Trail movement, created to add color and art to his San Diego neighborhood. His murals are also found around the country in locations as diverse as children’s hospitals, public schools, farmer’s markets, and freeway underpasses. This community work is the subject of the children’s book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood (2016).

López illustrated two New York Times bestsellers: Just Ask! Be DifferentBe Brave, Be You (2019), written by Sonia Sotomayor, and The Day You Begin (2018), written by Jacqueline Woodson. He also is a three-time Pura Belpre Medal award-winning illustrator for Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played Piano for President Lincoln (2019), Drum Dream Girl (2016), and Book Fiesta! (2010).

Among López’s many clients are Amnesty International, Apple, HarperCollins, the Library of Congress, The New York Times, the Grammy Awards, United States Forest Service, the Washington Post, and the World Wildlife Fund.

López lives and works in an industrial loft in downtown San Diego and at his home and studio in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

López designed and illustrated the 2022 Mariachi stamps and the 2022 Elephants stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. His previous projects were Latin Music Legends (2011), Mendez v. Westminster (2007), and one design for Let’s Dance/Bailemos (2005).

First Day of Issue Ceremony

First Day of Issue Date: July 15, 2022
First Day of Issue Location: Albuquerque, NM

Stamp Stories

In The News