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.