Surely somewhere in your home you have a drawer stuffed with national park ephemera. Brochures, maps, postcards, maybe. There is something vaguely amusement park like about national parks in the sense that they have an aura that within the boundaries of the park, there is magic.
Over the years, designers and artists have managed to capture some of that magic in the printed materials marketing the parks. Some decades-old pieces drip nostalgia, a patina of memories baked in. Even if you haven’t visited a park, you can still be captivated by a stylish lithograph of Half Dome on an NPS poster of Yosemite, or a Normal Rockwell-like painting of Shenandoah NP on a postcard.
Photographer and national park enthusiast Brian Kelley’s new book, Parks, is a century of imagery from the parks, collected and beautifully photographed and arranged into a design nerd’s dream. More than 300 images are here, in which you get a kind of walk through of how design and aesthetics have evolved over the decades, and at how regional taste ekes its way into the design language of park materials.
It’s a terrific book to flip through, become dizzy with nostalgia, then begin planning your next national park trip, this time with a plan to gather as many printed pieces of art from the park as possible.