In 2010, we started a new poster series called the Art & Soul of America Collection. We created these travel posters to celebrate our favorite destinations—places like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. But the series also featured a few National Parks which we considered to be iconic American places that everyone should visit. We soon began to receive requests for more park designs. People were asking for prints of specific parks they had visited—places where they had shared an experience of awesome natural beauty and splendor with someone special. At the time, we had no idea how many National Parks there were in the U.S.A. (After looking into it, we realized that there are 59 parks.)
Anderson Design Group founder Joel Anderson and his family began visiting as many National Parks as possible, taking photos, learning about the parks, and sharing adventures that would become cherished memories. These experiences fueled a passion for creating more National Park poster art. Joel’s son Nathan, an English major who happened to be an avid hiker, traveler and history buff was soaking in the experiences along the way. Little did he know that all of that personal exposure to the American wilderness would lead to a giant father-son project down the road!
Anderson Design Group continued to add new National Park posters to our Art & Soul of America series. In 2014, we produced a 2015 National Park wall calendar, which became our best-selling calendar ever. When he realized that the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks Service was coming up in 2016, Joel had a crazy idea—why not finish our poster series so we have at least 1 print for each of the 59 parks in time for the Centennial? Heck, why not commission 12 National Park oil paintings from our friend Kai Carpenter, too? And why not take all of our National Park art, combine it with Nathan’s awesome research and writing skills to produce a drop-dead gorgeous full-color coffee table book—and have it ready before the end of 2015?
Most people would call that impossible (or insane.) At the time this ambitious idea was hatched, we only had 30-ish of the 59 posters done. We didn’t even know if Kai Carpenter could drop everything to work on 12 new paintings. We had not even heard of several of the more obscure parks. But we love a good challenge, so we dove in head-first in a race against the clock to finalize our poster series and lay the groundwork for a 160-page 9"x12" hard-cover coffee table book that would include a history of the NPS, a timeline, a map of the USA showing where all the parks are located, interesting facts, travel tips, and information about each park, along with beautiful full-page illustrations by the talented artists of Anderson Design Group.
Kai performed like a champ, producing 12 amazing paintings of our favorite National Parks. Joel supplied him with some reference shots from his visits to the parks. Kai did his own research and sketching. The resulting posters are rich in color and each one tells a story of Americans sharing a life-changing encounter with nature.
You may be curious about how we created al of this art. We are a team of artists who collaborate to accomplish artistic feats that none of us could do alone. Joel’s background is illustration and design, so when possible, he enjoys rendering a poster as much as anyone. But he realized the best way to produce 70+ National Park posters along with a book within a short window was for him to act like the conductor of a chamber orchestra and write parts for each of his virtuoso players to perform.
He created a master list of poster themes that would be included in the series and in the book. Then he assigned illustrations to different artists who he had either trained as interns or who draw, paint, design and think like the old Masters of Poster Art from the 1930s and 40s. Several artists were working on different posters at the same time. During the process, Joel would look at progress sketches and renderings, offer input and guidance, and then try to stay out of the way as much as possible to let everyone do what they were born to do. As soon as one of the illustrations was finished, he would spend a few hours on it adding finishing touches, keeping the continuity of a whole series of separate posters. Andy Gregg and Julian Baker created the first few poster designs in this series back in 2010. Since then, Michael Korfhage, Kai Carpenter, Aaron Johnson, Joel and another of his sons, David Anderson have done the rest. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how two of our artists created their art, as told by Joel Anderson in the new coffee table book...
If you are wondering how it all turned out, we are happy to say that our talented team worked tirelessly and completed all 59 posters a few weeks ago. Kai turned in his 12th painting on August 24. Joel has sent all the art to the printer and the posters are being produces at this very moment. Edward Patton created the design template for the coffee table book. Dawn Verner turned in a pile of research about each park and Nathan has been writing non-stop, adding the final touches to his narrative. Jamie Blaine has been editing the text as fast as we can send it to him. Joel is finalizing the book cover and interior. After a few more edits, it will go to the printer, and the books will be ready to ship by November 15, if not sooner! Here is a sneak peek at the book:
And if all that were not enough, we somehow managed to produce another wall calendar to follow up our last one which won lots of National Advertising Federation awards laster year (local Gold ADDY Awards, plus Best In Show Print, A regional Gold ADDY, and a National Silver ADDY Award.) Our 2016 Wall Calendar celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service with 13 framable 11" x 14" prints. This calendar is in production and will start shipping in early October.
This massive project has been a labor of love. It is our way of celebrating the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the NPS and expressing gratitude for our American heritage of wilderness and wonder. We hope you will be inspired to protect, preserve and explore our National Parks (And of course, we hope you will buy a print, a book and a calendar as a keepsake!) We will be donating a portion of the proceeds from all of our sales to the National Parks Foundation. So not only will you end up with a beautiful souvenir of your favorite park, you will also make a contribution that will help to maintain our parks for the benefit of everyone.