59 Parks, 59 Posters
The United States’ National Parks are some of the country’s most treasured places. If you have fond memories of a National Park visit—or even if you’re just a fan of good design—you’ll enjoy the 59 Parks Print Series.
This series, with a poster dedicated to each park, is the brainchild of JP Boneyard (the nom de design of JP Boilard). Boneyard knows posters—he’s made them for years, and he runs the National Poster Retrospecticus, a travelling show of hand-printed examples of the art. Many of the 59 Parks artists are represented in the Retrospecticus.
Boneyard’s budget doesn’t stretch to covering the simultaneous design and printing of all 59 screen-printed posters. At press time, there are 13 for eight parks, because some are available in color and size variations. The proceeds from the sale of these prints (and related merchandise, including notebooks and postcards) will fund future posters. Fittingly, five percent of each poster sold online is donated to the National Park Service.
To learn a bit more about how two of the posters came to be, I spoke to designers Eric Nyffeler, who created the Grand Teton National Park poster, and Brad Woodard of Brave the Woods, who depicted Big Bend National Park.
TEXTURING THE TETONS
When Eric Nyffeler told me how he makes the textures in his artwork, I didn’t believe him at first. Photocopiers?! And not just any copier, but vintage machines from the late 1970s and early 1980s. “I’m always hunting for them,” he says. “I still have an emotional attachment to my favorite photocopier, which is now dead.” It went up in flames four years ago—literally.
PAINTING BIG BEND
Brad Woodard lives in Texas now, but he grew up in Seattle. “My adventures in nature didn't look anything like the vast, desert landscape you find in Big Bend,” Woodard says. But opposites attract: “I particularly enjoy Big Bend because of how foreign it is to me.”
The park’s Mule Ear Peaks are the iconic centerpiece of the illustration. Woodard referred to multiple photos to get the lighting and geography just right. The foreground is from his imagination: “It’s something I came up with to show someone enjoying and exploring the park.”
MORE TO COME
If your favorite park isn’t yet for sale on the 59 Parks store, don’t worry—it’s coming. “Our goal is two prints per month,” Boneyard says, “but artists have a lot on their plate, so the schedule is a little fluid.” And you can take some consolation in the fact that you’re not the only one eagerly waiting for the posters: The Library of Congress will archive the entire collection. “It’s such a cool thing to legitimize poster design and modern printmaking,” Boneyard says.