Happy trails! A vintage hiking print for outdoorsy art collectors June 12 2018


Hiking—WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 30"x24" ($800)

If you’re carving out some time to commune with nature while the weather’s nice, you probably have a solid appreciation for the restorative power of an escape into the trees. This new Vintage Edition is for you, lover of art and enjoyer of all things al fresco. Hiking--WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2 hails from the Chicago, IL poster division of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, and was designed in 1939. It’s a retro call to the wild, and the earth-toned, beautifully balanced silkscreen design appeals to admirers of vintage printmaking, typeface fans, wannabe wilderness wanderers, and hardcore hikers alike. Best part: it’ll bring a little woodland inspiration indoors. You don’t need a compass to find your way to this outdoor oasis!

Roosevelt launched the Works Progress Administration in 1935 as part of his New Deal to create jobs for unemployed Americans. In July of that year, the WPA established Federal Project Number One, a central administration for arts-related exploits that funded work for artists, actors, musicians, and writers. One subset, the Federal Art Project, employed more than five thousand artists throughout the United States in various art-related areas, including poster divisions like the Chicago one responsible for Hiking--WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2 ... 

All WPA posters promoted government-sponsored programs and projects, running the gamut from cultural performances to travel to community activities. Hiking--WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2 was meant to encourage the public to venture into the great outdoors, to take some time to enjoy our purple mountain majesties and partake of some healthy open-air activity. Looking at it now—around 80 years since its inception—this image definitely rouses our inner outdoorsperson. Its enduring ability to incite interest in an impromptu trip to REI is a testament to the timeless quality of its well-conceived design, invitingly organic color palette, and the exceptional craftsmanship that went into creating it.

WPA posters were printed mainly on pasteboard and were sometimes signed by the artist. Note the small signature on the right side of Hiking--WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2. It says “Beard”, who was likely the artist who dreamed up the initial design, though it’s important to note that the production of these posters was a decidedly collaborative event. Artists were responsible for design, color selection, and stencils-cutting, but a workshop’s technical staff manned the screen printing process. It was a synergetic group effort, the exchange of ideas between artists, designers and printers yielding technically elegant and artistically engaging posters like the one we've remastered as an archival pigment print for today’s limited-edition release.

So go ahead—pitch a tent under this pretty print. Swiss army knife not required!

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200