High international demand for a series of Tom of Finland stamps has caused the website selling them to crash.

Itella, the Finnish postal service last week announced that it is to launch the line of stamps featuring the art of Tom of Finland, who inspired the look of Freddie Mercury and the Village People.

The artist, whose real name is Touko Laaksonen, remains an influential figure in the gay art scene.

After being released for pre-order early due to the “unprecedented” international demand, the Itella Posti website selling the stamps went down.

200,000 sheets of the stamps will be sold, and those pre-ordering will receive them soon after they are released on 8 September.

“The extent of the international attention received has been unprecedented. Tom of Finland works are unique and known worldwide. The works selected for the stamps are among the most tame in the artist’s portfolio, but nevertheless display his characteristic style. The presentation of the stamps has received praise worldwide,” says Development Director Markku Penttinen from Itella Posti.

A petition has since been launched, demanding the cancellation of a collection of Finnish stamps featuring the homoerotic art.

One of the most successful Finnish film directors, Dome Karukoski, announced last year that he will direct an authorised biopic about Tom of Finland.

The film marks the first time the Tom of Finland Foundation has approved a motion picture about the artist, who has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images.”

Earlier this month the US Postal Service unveiled a stamp to memorialise assassinated gay politician Harvey Milk.