It’s one thing to sit in an art studio and recall family vacations to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon for inspiration. It’s another to map a route that will take you to all 59 National Parks for a taste of the real thing.
One couple is doing just that, embarking on a two-year road trip and designing one poster per park as they visit them to help celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. The Centennial Poster series will be a collection of 59 historic-styled art posters available for purchase — 10 percent of each sale made will go to charity groups associated with each park.
The series was inspired by an old, Victorian gaslight-era style from the mid-19th to early 20th century, emulating the look of art during 1916, when the National Park Service was founded.
So, how does one simmer down all of the iconic landmarks and vast history of each National Park into a single poster? That’s the tough question, says Karla Sanders, who is one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Hike and Draw studio.
She and her husband Andres Quintero do it like this: When they arrive at a new park, the first stop is the visitor center. Next, the duo signs up for informative tours or just heads out with their hiking boots and backpacks to explore. After a few days of staying in the park’s campgrounds, chatting with rangers and local artists, and making sketches in their notebooks, the duo sits down and discusses what struck them most about the park.
“In Mammoth Caves, the first park we saw, we went on a cave tour,” Sanders remembers. “The Rangers really emphasized the history of the place, and in particular this explorer named Stephen Bishop who gave world-famous tours of the cave. His story really resonated with us; we imagined him exploring the cave, holding up his lantern. The poster captures that feeling, but the explorer on it could be any of us.”
Compiling the poster is a little more time-consuming. Sanders and Quintero, both of whom studied map making in college, design every facet of the posters, from the typography to the illustrations. The duo will spend the next few days drawing around the campfire or working in a local library until each and every piece of each poster is sketched, designed and compiled by hand and computer, then sent to a printer in California.
Each poster is individually hand-printed as it is ordered. The whole process takes five to seven days — and that’s including the hikes and tours. It’s a big endeavor, which begs the question: Why?
“In this country, especially, it’s not always easy to get outside,” says Sanders. “I grew up in the city, but my family would go to the Smokey Mountains and I fell in love with the outdoors. I realized humans need outdoor spaces. The National Parks are a place where I can go and be in a place where other people understand how that feels.”
“That’s the mission of the National Park Service: To help us connect to our natural world,” she continues. “We just hope we can further that and support that through our project.”
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