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You’re a good man, Charley Harper!

December 11, 2007
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I was recently reintroduced to the work of Charley Harper, a Cincinnati-based artist who’s unique style has graced posters for the US National Park Service, Cape May, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and other such nature-centered organizations. I was first exposed to Harper’s work in the form of the poster to the right, produced for the Park Service for Glacier Bay Alaska, which hung in my dad’s science classroom. I was enthralled by the modern styling, the use of bright colors, and the innate way Harper has of boiling each individual species down to its essence. I didn’t know the name of the artist but I know I liked the poster a lot, and I still do.

When I began volunteering in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences I noticed they had several of the prints Harper had done for the Cincinnati Nature Center displayed in the research library. I’m a big fan of effective graphic design, and simple shapes and patterns appeal to me. Be it the neat visual pun in the negative space of FedEx (look between the E and the X), or the clever juxtaposition of Sun Microsystems logo, or the sharp simple lines of a classic sports logo, I really dig stuff like that. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy Harper’s work so much. Despite the more lifelike bird work out there, and much of it is really lovely, I have to say I’d take Harper’s nearly every time.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into my local bird supply store and saw they were selling prints of Harper’s gorgeous “Wings of the World” poster. What’s great is that on our recent cleaning turn around the house, my wife and I were just commenting that we need to replace the crap we have hanging on our walls now. Enter Charley Harper. So one small step for bird art, one giant leap towards making our house look less like a college apartment.

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4 Comments
  1. slybird permalink
    December 11, 2007 8:55 am

    Awesome. Charlie Harper’s work is fantastic, a bunch of his paintings are at the Lab. I have a print of his CLO poster and my roommate has an Arizona poster.
    http://frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/art/uploaded_images/cornell-779280.jpg

  2. Patrick Belardo permalink
    December 11, 2007 10:53 am

    I love CH! I met him at Cape May last year and bought a cool long-sleeved t-shirt. I was sad to hear of his passing.

  3. Greg permalink
    December 11, 2007 10:56 am

    I love this post! Very cool!

  4. December 11, 2007 1:04 pm

    Slybird-
    The print he did for CLO is incredible, one of my favorites

    Patrick-
    You and me both. He was one of a kind, that’s for sure.

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