An Auspicious Beginning
In the 1930s, the Federal Government created the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency. And it was called the Works Progress Administration (renamed the Work Project Administration (WPA) in 1939). Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. At its peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration. Projects under its domain included the construction of public buildings, regional airports and roads. Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed. The WPA’s initial appropriation in 1935 was $4.9 billion, and in total spent $13.4 billion.
The Federal Art Project
But there was a smaller, more famous project. The Federal Project Number One. For this project, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It commissioned hundreds of artists to create thousands of poster designs. This included posters for public exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, health, safety and educational programs, nature and travel.
At its peak, The Federal Art Project employed more than 5,300 artists. Artists from the Art Teaching Division were employed in settlement houses and community centers to give classes to an estimated 50,000 children and adults. They set up over 100 art centers around the country that served an estimated eight million individuals.
Included in these Federal Art Project designs were posters for our National Parks. These posters encouraged Americans to travel and explore our national treasures. By the end of the WPA era, only 26 National Parks had been established and only 14 national park posters had been created.
Continuing the Work of the WPA
As a photographer, artist and craftsman, I am passionate about preserving the nostalgic style of the WPA-era. I’m picking up where the masters from that time left off, building on what they began to create a whole new body of National Park poster art for our generation. Every Limited Edition poster, Artist Proof and postcard I produce is printed in the USA on “Conservation” a 100% recycled, domestically produced stock with soy-based inks. And they are printed by one of the greenest printers in America, right here in Colorado.
These posters are not endorsed or sponsored by the National Park Service or the Department of the Interior. They are intended to be reminiscent of the WPA style of posters from the 1930s and 1940s. National Park Posters is not associated in any way with the National Park Service or the Department of the Interior.
Robert B. Decker Limited Edition National Park Posters www.National-Park-Posters.com