If you’ve been lucky enough to visit one of America’s National Parks –and we. love. so. many. of. them. — you may find yourself skimming Insta photos and tracking hashtags in an attempt to recapture the feel of these stunning natural wonders. JP Boilard, the creative director of the Fifty-Nine Parks Project, understands this transportive power of imagery. He gets how it can conjure our impressions of a destination that we found personally significant. That’s why he and his team have set out to depict all 59 US National Parks through screen-printed posters.
Combining a love of nature with the art and craft of silk-screening, the Fifty-Nine Parks Project attempts to capture the spirit of each park. Boilard art-directed the entire run, so despite the fact that they were designed by many different artists, they feel “of a whole.” Be it through the calm hues of Joshua Tree at dusk or the wildlife that roams the Rocky Mountains, the project isn’t just a reminder to those who have visited the parks, they also color the imaginations of those who haven’t.
This week, we spoke with JP — who works under the moniker ‘JP Boneyard’ — over the phone about the origins of the Fifty-Nine Parks project, as well how the marriage of nature and poster art inspires travelers to engage with the parks in person.
So, how did the 59 Parks Project start?
The Parks Project started out of the National Poster Retrospecticus — that’s a traveling poster show that we did, which featured a bunch of different artists from all over the world, primarily in gig posters and art prints. And after a couple years of touring we opened it up to be movie prints, and posters for pretty much anything at this point. And they’re all printed by hand, so they’re all screen printed or letterpressed.
I’d say about 2014 maybe or 2015, we had the idea to do a series of some sort — pulling from all the artists in the touring show. And that’s where we really ended on the National Parks as something fun to do, something that has a diverse, I’d say, interest from the general population but also within the poster world. We wanted to do something that was appreciated in the poster community but maybe reach a wider audience as well.
And how has the project grown from what it was when you guys initially started? You guys have been doing it for, what, two years?
I think we’re going on our third year, maybe… but I would say it’s grown from just a couple posters in the beginning, and a smaller audience, to this. We’re almost done with the series now. I think we have about six or seven parks that still need to come out. And, you know, the following has grown. We sell out of stuff now, so I would say in that way it has grown — mostly — in the audience and the demand for some of the prints.
But the scope is still about the same, and it’s always been myself full-time, and then working with all the artists, and then my friend Brian Buccaroni, who’s on tour with the poster show quite a bit.