From the Vault: Stampscapes

Sometimes it pays to clean out old boxes …. especially when you find old cards.

Often, when I look at these old cards, made when I first started stamping back in the Neanderthal era, I think, “my, these are so simple… and unsophisticated….” But sometimes I also re-discover some favorite stamps that haven’t touched ink in a long time.

Like these Stampscapes images. I had forgotten how much I loved the designs from Kevin Nakagawa, the king of scene-building images. I have several of his scene-making stamps, but I also have these more stylistic images from the Symmetry Sheet 2 collection:

Stampscapes 672 B&W sun DSC_0670

Oh, so simple! This was way before texture embossing folders were out. So check out the old-school scoring lines for simple texture! The image was stamped on a linen-textured cardstock, so the streaky lines are my fault, no fault of the stamp!

Stampscapes 672 red sun ThYou DSC_0674

This was stamped on a glossy cardstock and it came out much better. (All the other stamps I show here are from Hero Arts and also among my earliest stamp buys.)

Two more versions of the sun:
Stampscapes 672 Blk sun warm wishes DSC_0676

(Before I had a large stash of patterned paper or background stamps, I used the inside of envelopes!)

Stampscapes 672 pink border DSC_0672

Now I need to dig these out and see what I can do to update the look! If you love making a scene, do check out the Stampscapes Web site.

Thanks for stopping by.

More Stampscapes

Seaside Cove 139H

Seaside Cove 139H

This large ocean stamp is one of the first stamps I received – it was a gift from an internet stamping buddy and I was blown away by the size of the thing (and her generosity!). At first, the size itself was intimidating, but then I saw the beautiful artwork Kevin made and I braved the inking. I made a few vacation postcards, and they didn’t come close to Kevin’s art, but I was hooked. Now I love this stamp for its versatility and often use just parts of it to create a scene.

Here’s a beautiful scene Kevin made using Seaside Cove:

"Tropical Series," by Kevin Nakagawa, 1995

"Tropical Series," by Kevin Nakagawa, 1995

For detailed instructions on using Stampscapes, check out his website:

And here is Kevin demonstrating his techniques at The Original Rubber Stamp Show in Carson, Calif.:


Close-up of Kevin's work-in-progress


Thanks, Kevin, for sharing your thoughts and allowing me to post your art.

Meet Kevin Nakagawa

"Early Morning on the Lake: Fog & Mist," by Kevin Nakagawa, 1998

"Early Morning on the Lake: Fog & Mist," by Kevin Nakagawa, 1998

Kevin’s inspired use of color take his stamped scenes from beautiful sunsets to mystical meanderings. Today, we will hear a little about Kevin and how he created his company, Stampscapes (

1. How did you get into the stamp business?

I started working for A Stamp in the Hand Co. (ASITH) in 1987 and started Stampscapes in 1993. I was going to Cal State Long Beach University and ASITH was based out of Long Beach at the time.  There was a career center there with a job board. ASITH had posted a job opening for production help.  I worked there part time for about five years.  I graduated from the university with a Fine Arts degree in illustration and was doing freelance illustration but I was still helping ASITH promote some of the stamp lines that I had developed for them.  One of those lines was the first generation of modular landscape designs. I was intrigued by the potential of modular landscapes.  I pondered the idea of starting my own company so that I could implement my own systems and decided to take the plunge in 1992.  It took a year to work on the first batch of designs, make the plates, and get things into production.


2.       What do you love about this business?

Without question the people. (Stamping) is a cottage industry so we don’t see many large corporate interests involved. You end up with a lot of users of the products getting involved with the business aspect of things.  In other words, most of the people who have stamp businesses started with and/or still stamp.  Stamping is a medium that allows the user to create great finished works in a relatively short span of time in comparison to many other hobbies, so it’s the perfect medium to give away or exchange the finished works with others.  That being said, the medium tends to attract a lot of creative and giving people and that’s *very* easy to be around, as well as the types of associates and customers who are a joy to serve.


3.       What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Probably the type of companies and stamps offered, the creation of different accessories, and the availability/exposure of (these products). I think a fairly large number of early stampers used to be mail artisans (envelope art) and a lot of the companies seemed to reflect their esthetics.  The late 80’s to early 90’s stamp art was based on dye based markers with the surfaces being white card stock in matte or glossy finishes.  Now we have stamp pads by various manufacturers in a huge range of colors in dye based, pigment, alcohol, and permanent inks as well as specialty pads, such as resists, watermarks, etc.  In the late ‘80’s to early ‘90’s most people hadn’t heard of the art/craft aspect of rubber stamps.  I always had to explain to people that it wasn’t business rubber stamps that I was talking about and they would just kind of nod their head with a puzzled expression. 


 Nowadays if you say rubber stamping, many people will know what you’re talking about even if they aren’t rubber stampers because they might know someone who is a stamper.  There are or have been stores all over the country dedicated to the medium, regional conventions have popped up everywhere, there are many publications on the subject of stamping, and now there’s the internet, which has probably had the biggest impact on things.  We put up our first incarnation of our website in 1996 and, when doing a search on “rubber stamps,” it came up with 3 rubber stamp sites — and one was for business rubber stamps.


4.       What inspires you?

I’m inspired by different things but, as far as our line of rubber stamps, which are modular nature designs, it’s easy to be inspired by nature itself.  Ultimately, if you’re going to try to depict nature it seems to me that it helps to be inspired by it so you can try to transfer a part of that feeling into the designs or into the scenes created by the stamps.


5. How did you come up with the name?

I take no credit for this one.  I was talking on the phone one night with a former coworker (a writing/literature student at Long Beach State.) She said maybe I should incorporate my last name, which translates into “middle river” (Naka-gawa), into the name.  She brainstormed further and said that if I want something really corny to maybe add something like “Stamp-scapes” into it.  As soon as she said that I knew what the company name had to be — sans the last name angle.  I feel like it’s the perfect company name for what we do.



Kevin Nakagawa

Kevin Nakagawa









Stunning Stampscapes


“Abiding Embers,” by Kevin Nakagawa, 1998

Is this a gorgeous scene, or what?


When I first started stamping, I was blown away by the scenic art of Kevin Nakagawa, founder of Stampscapes. I may not be an artist, but using Kevin’s modular images of trees, mountains, streams, etc., I could stamp a scene that looked like a beautiful postcard. (Well, almost! I’m not even close to his league.) He makes it look so easy!


This week I want to introduce you to Kevin and his wonderful Stampscapes world. Read my upcoming interview with Kevin, then check out his website: where you can see his stamps, explore the galleries, and learn how to create these fabulous scenes.

 Modular Stamping Is The Key

These scenes look complicated but they really aren’t, once you get the hang of Kevin’s “modular” concept, which breaks down images into indivual stamps. The individual pieces work together and are unified by the beautiful coloring, done mostly with dye inks (Marvy Matchables, Ranger Adirondacks, etc.) on glossy cardstock.


Here’s another of Kevin’s masterpieces:


"Morning Mist" by Kevin Nakagawa, 2002

"Morning Mist" by Kevin Nakagawa, 2002

 Here are a few of the stamps:





It turns out I picked some of Kevin’s personal favorites to show you! “Abiding Embers,’ he says, is a piece that taught him “a lot  as I was experimenting with depth and trying to replicate the color scheme from a Hudson River School painting.”
In “Morning Mist,” Kevin notes that he was “trying to figure out how to create haze/mist with pigment ink.” I’d say he figured it out quite well! 
Tune in tomorrow to hear more from Kevin.