In addition to protecting our nation’s most beautiful natural resources, the National Parks Service (NPS) has always positioned itself as a steward for great design. To celebrate the organization’s 100th birthday, though, it’s getting some outside help, with dozens of talented designers lending their skills to create beautiful promotional prints of their favorite parks–with all proceeds going to the NPS.
Type Hike is a loving typographic tribute to the nation’s parks curated by James Louis Walker and David Rygiol, two graphic designers united just as much by their love of great type as their love of the outdoors. As a way of honoring the NPS’s centennial, their goal with the project is to do more than just produce pretty wall-sized prints of some of the country’s natural marvels. They want to speak to the soul of each individual park. “We both love the Nation’s parks, and felt a typographic response gives each park a unique voice,” explains Walker.
So far, 60 designers have contributed to the project, each submitting stunningly different works. Joshua Noom’s poster for the Everglades looks like a cover for a children’s book about a haunted swamp, with reptilian letters and a skull-swallowing alligator. Comparatively, Charles Thorn’s poster for the Haleakala National Parks in Hawaii looks like a golden peach postcard from paradise. Several posters are throwbacks to the glory days of National Parks graphic design, such as Matt Plays’s poster for Acadia National Park, which looks like it was ripped out of a 1930s road atlas. Others, such as Matthew Terdich’s design for Mammoth Cave, resemble a lost Saul Bass movie poster.
In all, it’s really hard to pick a favorite design. Just when you think you’ve found the best, you click the next page on Type Hike and are forced to change your mind. It’s a killer collection of design porn for National Parks Service lovers, and it adds to the organization’s profoundly rich history of great design. And did we mention the merch was pretty killer too?
But Walker and Rygiol hope that Type Hike has a deeper effect than just marrying beautiful type design with beautiful scenery. They also hope, after a divisive election season, it’ll remind people of what really makes America great… and a huge part of that is our Nation’s Parks.
“Type Hike is, admittedly, a showcase for beautiful type,” write the designers. “But more importantly it’s an outlet for design to be used as a positive counter to the negative mood swing our country is currently experiencing. Looking forward with optimism to another great century for the NPS is one of the main goals of the project.”