Charley Harper Posters

April 7, 2010

It’s easy to become blasé about the things you deal with on the job. For years, I’ve been seeing a variety of National Park Service posters whose design was along similar lines. They depicted stylized birds and animals, evoking, at least for me, a sort of Native American sensibility. I admit, though, that this is more thought than I actually put into them. If asked, I would have surmised vaguely that the stylistic resemblance was due to some kind of “look” the Park Service was trying to achieve, rather than because they were the work of a particular artist.

Recently, we reprinted a number of these posters and our content acquisition staff kept referring to them as “Charley Harper” posters. Then we got an inquiry from the depository library side of the house about “Charley Harper” posters. My first response: Who’s he? Well, Charley Harper (1922-2007) was a noted American artist, particularly esteemed for his wildlife posters, prints, and illustrations in a style he described as “minimal realism.” He’s also an eminently collectible artist, so once again Government publications suddenly appear in a new guise,  far removed from the tired old stereotype.

These posters are sold by stores in the various national parks and also are available from GPO. It’s easy to pick them out! To see all of the posters and handbooks produced by our Park Service colleagues in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, go here, where you’ll also find a link to the various parks associations that sell Park Service products.


March Madness

March 30, 2010

College basketball playoffs are wildly popular and followed by millions of fans, including some in our office. Last year, we came up with the idea of doing a “Sweet 16” playoff of Government publications on GPO’s online bookstore. After working with our web support team, which is both creative and very patient, we launched our first playoff last year. We sent out a message to all of our customers who have requested information about our products and sat back to see if anything would happen. It did! By the time our “tournament” was over, we received more than 139,000 votes and a mention in the New York Times business blog.

I think this proves that Government publications have fans, and highly motivated fans at that. The winner? You can find it here.

Now it’s March again, and this year it’s a National Parks Playoff, featuring eight National Park Service handbooks and eight posters by the noted artist Charley Harper (who will be the subject of a future posting here). If you get a chance, stop by and vote!


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