A California Duck Validation is required for hunting waterfowl in California. Any person who purchases a California Duck Validation and/or Upland Game Bird Validation is entitled by law to receive a collectible California Duck Stamp and/or Upland Game Bird Stamp upon request. The money generated from validation and stamp sales can only be spent on waterfowl-related conservation projects. Since it began in 1971, the California duck stamp program has raised more than $22 million. It is also the first, and oldest, state duck stamp program in the country.
History of the California Duck Stamp
California was the first U.S. state to produce a state duck stamp. The state program was patterned after the federal Duck Stamp law, enacted in 1934 after a campaign sparked by nationally known political cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling to help restore once-bountiful waterfowl populations.
California DFG commissioned the late Paul B. Johnson, much-admired freelance artist, who for many years had provided wildlife illustrations for department publications, to do the state’s first seven duck stamps. He designed the 1971 through 1977 stamps depicting pintails, canvasbacks, mallards, white-fronted geese, green-winged teal, American wigeon and cinnamon teal. Stamps were printed in sepia and green and cost $1 each, except the cinnamon teal issue, which was changed halfway through the 1977-1978 waterfowl season to reflect an increase to $5 mandated by the Legislature.
The 1978 duck stamp design was opened to all, and 48 artists entered the competition. For the next 17 years, the art featured on the California Duck Stamp was selected through an art contest. Winners ranged from well-known professionals to artists with little or no formal art schooling.
In 1995, following a change in the duck stamp statutes, DFG switched to a contractual arrangement that allowed California to share the proceeds from the sale of limited edition prints of the stamp. Professional artist Robert Steiner was the successful bidder on the state duck stamp contract from 1995 through 2004. In 2005 the contractual artist was Rich Radigonda. Sherrie Russell Meline won the honor in 2006.
The 2007 stamp featured a reissue of the first duck stamp image to commemorate the first 35 years of the country’s oldest state duck stamp program.
It was at this point that DFG decided to return to an art competition to select future duck stamp art. To help promote the program and encourage artists to participate in a competition, DFG sought the assistance of master waterfowl artist Harry C. Adamson who, at the age of 92, has enjoyed a successful career as a wildlife artist spanning 65 years. Adamson agreed to create an original oil painting of mallards in flight, then donated the use of the image to the state for the 2008 California Duck Stamp.
In 2009, DFG re-instituted its art contest for selecting stamp images.
2013-2014 Contest Rules and Entry Form
CDFW is conducting a competition to select a design for the 2013-2014 California Duck Stamp. To enter, please read the rules below and mail the completed entry form and participation agreement with your entry.
Download printable rules and ENTRY FORM (PDF)
- The contest is open to U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older by March 8, 2013. CDFW employees are ineligible. The winning entry will be reproduced on the 2013-14 California Duck Stamp.
- Each entry must be accompanied by a completed and signed entry form and participation agreement.
- Entries for the 2013/2014 California Duck Stamp contest will be accepted from 9 a.m. April 30, 2013 through 4 p.m., May 30, 2013.
- Entries may be mailed, shipped or delivered in person to: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1807 13th St., Suite 104, Sacramento CA 95811. The art should be protectively packaged, and the exterior of the package and all protective materials should be clearly labeled with the artist’s name to ensure proper repackaging.
- The primary subject of the 2013/2014 California Duck Stamp will be the American wigeon.
- All contest entries must include a prominent rendering of this species in the design. If background detail is included in the design, it must be accurate and representative of a natural habitat in California.
- The design is to be in full color and in the medium (or combination) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design. Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible to be entered into the contest and will be disqualified.
- The design must be the contestant’s original “hand drawn” creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet.
- No writing or other information printed on a finished duck stamp may appear on the painting or mat. No scroll work, lettering or accent borders may appear on the painting or mat.
- The overall dimensions of the entry, including mat, cannot exceed 20 inches by 15 inches. Any mat used must be white. The image size cannot exceed 18 inches by 13 inches and must be horizontal.
- The painting must not be framed or under glass. Any acetate or other protective covering used must be lightly fastened to facilitate removal before judging.
- CDFW’s Office of Communications, Education and Outreach will select the judging panel, which will choose the winners. The judges will have expertise in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. The members of the judging panel will be announced on the date that the judging takes place.
- All designs will be judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and print.
- There shall be a period of 15 days immediately following the contest judging during which any artist may make a plagiarism claim against the winning design. In the event any such claim is upheld by CDFW, the first runner-up shall be declared the winning design, subject to the same 15-day plagiarism claim period.
- The winning artist may be required to make minor changes to his/her design in order to ensure that the artwork is suitable for reproduction as a stamp.
- The winning entries (first through third place and honorable mention) will be retained by CDFW for display purposes through August 30, 2013.
- Non-placing entries may be claimed immediately after the judging by any artists in attendance. All other non-placing entries not picked up at CDFW’s Sacramento office will be returned to the artists by August 31, 2013.
- It is the responsibility of each entrant to obtain adequate property insurance for their contest submission. CDFW will not insure any contest entry and CDFW assumes no liability for any damage, loss or theft of any entry, before, during or after the judging event.
- Any entry that fails to comply with any of the requirements of this competition may be disqualified.
Download printable rules and ENTRY FORM (PDF)
Download Poster (PDF)