POSTERS for PARKS is a yearly show featuring limited-edition posters about Minneapolis Parks, created by local artists and designers. 50% of profits from the show are donated to protect and preserve the Minneapolis park system, the other 50% goes to the artists.

Since its start in 2016, the show has raised more than $80,000 to support the community-driven projects and programs of the People for Parks Fund.

Over 1000 posters were sold this year, which means more than $25k was raised for the parks.

Champion Trees, Vincent Night 2023

The concept.

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation board curates a map of the notable trees in the city, many of which are in the parks. There are three categories. Historically important trees, big trees and champion trees, the largest and most impressive of their species. I like to check this map before I go out on walks to see if I’ll be going by any celebrities.

During warm months, these trees blend into the sea of green that makes up the landscape of our city. When winter comes through, the leaves are stripped and nothing is hidden. Hulking masses of thick branches laid bare, silently reaching towards a bright blue sky. They cast stark shadows against the freshly fallen snow. It also makes bird watching quite a bit easier if you know where to look.

Winter can be brutal, but there is a hidden beauty to it.

The process.

I enjoy screen printing because I try to limit myself to a specific number of colors. Each color adds to the complexity of printing, and with it the production price. I also have to carefully consider the level of detail. If the design is too fine the ink won’t flow through the screen. If there is too much of a color, the paper is in danger of warping.

I knew that blue and black were going to be my main colors, and by not printing certain areas, I could use the white paper to represent the snow. After waffling a bit on what species of bird to add, I settled on cardinals as the red and brown would stand out against the other colors. This made for a total of four inks + the paper color, which is standard for my posters.

To start, I sketched out the idea out and tried various setups in the 3D software Blender to see how the lighting might work. Once I was happy with the overall layout, I used Adobe Illustrator to block out the shapes of the branches and then moved everything into Photoshop for texturing. Luckily my wife is an illustrator, and I often ask her for any interesting brushes she’s been using lately. It’s always a hoot trying out different texturing brushes, and I often get results I never would have thought of on my own.

Sketching, 3D lighting test, simple shapes, complex shapes, texture.

The show.

In previous years, the show was held at breweries and the crowd varied quite a bit over the evening. This year it was packed shoulder to shoulder the entire time. The event taking place at a Minneapolis park for the first time was the primary reason for this I imagine. There were a lot of folks there to see Minnehaha Falls who happened to wander in and left with a poster. In an ironic twist of fate, this was the first year I didn’t see any posters about the falls.

All in all, it’s a really fun show that leaves me feeling great about our parks and artists. While the official sales window is over, many artists sell the remainders on their websites. There is also a limited digital reprinting during the winter where the art is used for holiday cards and other ephemera.

Below are a couple of my personal favorites from the show, and I can’t wait to see what people come up with next year!

MPLS Stamp Collection by Kim Bogeman, Defend our River by Violeta Rotstein and Dog Paddle by Andy Wood