What came first, the vintage poster art that inspired the travel? Or the travel adventures that inspired the poster art? (The next 3 historic images below are from the Library of Congress.)
A collective of artists and always-on-the-road adventurers, we've been trying to answer that question since we launched the American Travel Collection in 2010.
Much of our vintage poster art and retro prints take inspiration from the classic designs of the Golden Age of Poster Art and Design, the early and mid-20th century travel art and illustrations that inspired so many Americans to visit the many locations that had just become available thanks to Works Progress Administration efforts and the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
For our team of poster artists, this era is inspiring for many reasons. It was the beginning of the iconic "American Road Trip" age, the first time in American history when a family could get in their just-off-the-assembly-line Ford sedan or Lincoln town car and drive to virtually anywhere in America.
It was also the era of conservation and the birth of the environmental movement, when all across the United States, nature-minded folks were pressuring politicians at the State and Federal level to set aside lands and to give those lands eternal protection.
This movement led to the establishment of numerous National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, State and National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management-protected areas.
Wanderlust and the American Travel Collection
Traveling the country inspires art, and creating art, in turn, inspires travel. Case in point, we love creating art here at our Nashville art studio, a Nashville poster shop and design firm all in one. At the same time, our team of award-winning poster artists and the Anderson family as a group have always made a point to go on several cross-American trips each year to experience the beauty this country has to offer and to seek inspiration for new poster designs. (The images below are all original designs from our American Travel Collection.)
The Illustrated American Travel Collection was born from the notion that there are so many incredible places to see across the 50 States that we felt each location deserved a unique poster of its own. As a result, American Travel is now our largest collection of vintage poster works yet, with over 400 unique designs and counting!
The next time you travel to a beautiful place in America, be it a city or a natural place, be sure to take a peek at the American Travel collection. We've likely created poster art of your destination!
What Makes Travel So Special?
Two things happened in the early and mid-1900s that made traveling such an essential part of the American experience. First was the completion of the Second American Industrial Revolution. That industrial revolution began around 1850 and ended just before World War I. The result was that Americans now had the methods by which they could travel the nation, e.g., automobiles, passenger rail, and airplanes.
The second major contributor to American Travel was the implementation of the interstate system. A post World War II insurance policy put in place by the Eisenhower Administration to ensure that troops could be rapidly moved across the U.S. if a foreign power ever invaded American soil, the interstate system also created a simple and convenient way for American families to travel the nation, just for the sake of traveling!
By the mid-1950s, encouraged by a post-WWII economic boom coupled with new modes of transportation and the roads to carry them, Americans flocked to the highways and saw parts of the country their parents, grandparents, and ancestors were never able to see. And to inspire such adventures, American companies, entrepreneurs, boosters, and artists immediately went to work promoting the enticing concept of travel via travel art, advertisements, billboards, and commercials.
The Great Journey - Finding Inspiration in America's Oldest Story
In a nation founded by pioneers, settlers, migrants, and immigrants, few things are more American than traveling. Perhaps that is why wanderlust is a mainstay feature of the American people, why traveling across the continental U.S. is still one of the great American pastimes. Our ancestors traveled across endless oceans and landmasses to find their American home, and now we follow in their path, traveling just for the pure joy of it.
Some have theorized that there is significant personal growth that can be found in traveling, that people break out of their comfort zones when they hit the road for a few weeks or more.
No more 9-5, no more same old sights, sounds, and smells. Everything is new, inspiring, and different. We certainly feel that way, as every time we return from a trip, we're filled with inspiration, and we immediately get to work creating new poster art from our travels.
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best:
"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail."
Vintage Poster Art - Retro Travel Illustrations Inspired by Adventure
From the rural heartland to the big city lights of America's most populous urban centers, from military bases to scenic parkways, famous landmarks, historic buildings, ancient statues, great views, beloved lakes and forests, nature conservatories, and historic districts, the Illustrated American Travel Collection is the culmination of 11 years of travel-inspired poster art.
You can order your favorite wanderlust-enticing vintage travel art as framed prints, unframed prints, canvas banners, premium gallery-wrapped canvases, mini canvases, metal signs, notecards, or postcards. We offer our artwork in a wide range of design styles and sizes, giving you the opportunity to decorate in a way that best fits the style of your home or workplace.
From the natural wonders of America to the deep urban cultures found in all corners of the nation, Anderson Design Group's American Travel Collection tells America's story in vintage poster art. We hope you'll enjoy the art, and we hope it will inspire you to travel, just as it has inspired us in more ways than we thought possible.
Until next time, I'll be hiking the shorelines and forests of Northern Michigan, finding artistic inspiration of my own along the way.
Anderson Design Group Writing Staff