Junior Rangers take a special oath!
My friends at Devil’s Postpile National Monument asked for some help designing a new badge for the park’s Junior Ranger Program. This program engages kids and youth with the ecology or geology of different National Parks. When the kids finish the program, they earn a badge for their achievement. I used to do these programs on family vacations. The old ones were shiny plastic badges with bison on them. (This sounds way cooler than they actually were.)
For the new one, I based my design on the postpile, a giant formation of six-sided basalt columns. The shape of the columns dictated the hexagonal format and the use of stripes throughout. I wanted a strong diagonal and several layers of space. Also, designing for embroidery machines dictates a limited palette of flat color, in this case, six. Working with this limitation reminded me of an earlier NPS project.
Finalized design done in gouache.
If you’re up in the Sierra Nevadas, make sure to visit the park and get one!
This is one of a series of one-of-a-kind prints made for the artist book, “Means of Transportation That Don’t Go Anywhere.” Each copy of the book has my page with a unique drawing of a different spring-mounted animal and the wood type phrase, “Oh, hell yes.” Ostriches, zebras, and penguins all have strong graphic characters and made for nice images. Of the 16 variations, the unicorn was most popular, the mermaid was most disturbing, and the semi-inert slug was most amusing.
Here’s a recent print, made this fall on an antique Chandler & Price platen press. I spent the summer fuming over the BP Gulf Oil Spill, watching footage of oil destroying coastal ecosystems and waterways where I have lived and worked. To focus some of that energy, and to work with some lovely imagery, I decided to make a print about the tree-dwelling goats of Dauphin Island. I carved the illustration block to look very formal, like Victorian natural history texts or medieval woodcuts of fantastic creatures. When I set the antique lead type for the text and rule, I maintained that pre-modern sensibility with centered text, serifed type, and non-standard spellings, abbreviations, and capitalization. I’ll include more details about letterpress printmaking, relief-cutting, and setting type in future posts.
Carolyn and I are on the road this week celebrating my sister’s wedding up in the Sierras. My sister and her husband both work for the the National Park Service. So when they asked us to design their wedding invitations, we took our cues from the WPA posters of the late 1930s. These serigraphs were made as part of the WPA’s Federal Art Progject, which supported a generation of American artists through public works commissions during the Great Depression. Our design borrowed the simplified colors, abstracted shapes, and strong typography. Stealing tricks from these brilliant designers was lots of fun. As painters, designing for print is an uncomfortable process, but we’re very happy to contribute to the couple’s new life together.
More on the Fedral ArtProject and Tim Appelo’s case for a new one.