Get Into the Great Wide Open

Happy (belated) anniversary! On March 1, 1872, President Grant signed a bill creating America’s first national park. Yellowstone was the very first national park in the history of the world. Since then, our national parks have become, quite literally, national treasures.

Nearly 331 million people visited our national parks in 2017, with the Great Smoky Mountains being the most popular destination. Spring is fast approaching (or already here, for some of you)… are you ready to go?

Can’t head out on a tour of national treasures at the moment? You can still decorate the Department of YOUR Interior with fantastic posters of the parks. From direct replicas to photo-based interpretations to all-new designs, you can find the perfect, peeper-pleasing park poster for your pad.

Ranger of the Lost Art

In partnership with the National Park Conservation Association, Ranger Doug produces faithful reproductions of the 14 WPA National Park serigraphed posters. They also create park-commissioned, contemporary poster designs created “in the style of the WPA.” These posters been painstakingly researched, unearthed, preserved, peeled apart, and even dug up from under a log cabin!

The “original” 14 posters have been restored, one screen at a time, using colors as accurate as possible. For the contemporary images, Ranger Doug works directly with each park to create unique and historically accurate designs. They also donate at least 1% of their gross sales back to the parks for the purpose of preserving the WPA-CCC art and architecture, so pick one up in support of your favorite park.

Rob Decker’s National Park Posters

This one’s a work in progress! Rob Decker has visited and photographed 43 of our 59 national parks. He then digitally transforms his composite HDR photos into posters reminiscent of the style created by the WPA. And you’ll want to see these photographic transformations… he studied under Ansel Adams!

Rob donates 10% of his annual profits to trusts, conservancies, and associations that support the National Parks. His posters are printed on 100% recycled, domestically produced stock with soy-based inks. (You can get stickers and canvas prints, too.) All orders made in March will also be entered to win an “America the Beautiful” annual pass, which pays your entrance and amenity fees at over 2,000 parks and sites across the US, so you know what to do!

Fifty-Nine Parks

A project of The National Poster Retrospecticus, Fifty-Nine Parks is also all about…the 59 parks of the National Park Service. Each 18″x24″ open-edition poster was designed by one of 59 different contemporary poster artists. As an extra bonus, the National Park Service receives 5% directly from each purchase. The series has toured all over North America and is being archived by the Library of Congress, but you can get your own here.

NPS 100

In celebration of the NPS centennial anniversary in 2016, Type Hike gathered 60 designers and typographers to create new, unique poster designs for the national parks they love. This series is the furthest from the style of the original WPA posters, but after 100 years you might like something fresh. Each designer was permitted to choose their own style and fonts – it didn’t have to “belong” in a series. They were, however, asked to limit themselves to two colors (plus black).

None of the designers or project organizers are profiting from the sale of these posters; 100% is donated to the NPS Centennial Campaign, with the costs of the project supported by a pair of generous sponsors. And Type Hike has since produced two additional poster series: one highlighting lakes and seashores, and an alphabet featuring endangered animals.

Would you like to make your own posters while residing at a national park? From remote cabins to modern studios, opportunities for Artists-In-Residence are varied and include programs for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media.

If you’d rather just visit and take in the wonders of nature, what are you waiting for? The weather’s getting warmer and there are over 350,000 volunteers and employees ready to welcome you, so go get inspired!

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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