Instead of writing another nature book, I decided to create a series of poster designs that celebrate the most iconic – and important – wild places in Africa. The great national parks and reserves that still support wildlife communities and into which we can travel to reconnect with nature and witness life as it was before our own species modified so much of the planet. Safeguarding these reservoirs of biodiversity is an obligation that humankind must bear and an imperative for the maintenance of ecological processes upon which all life depends.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in vintage posters that depict popular travel destinations. Framed reproductions of designs created in the 1950s and 60s have become favoured in home decor, as well as in workspaces, hotels, lodges and public areas. The original posters were produced as promotional or advertising material by airlines, travel agencies and bodies such as the USA wildlife department who commissioned artists to create visually striking designs. Today, many of these reproductions, as well as new renditions, are available from online art print stores. However, African destinations were hardly represented in the 50’s and 60’s, with few of the continent’s spectacular wildlife reserves ever having been depicted in poster form.
It was against this background, that The African Journey Collection of vintage-style poster prints has been created. The best-known parks and reserves have been tackled first: Serengeti, Kruger, Maasai Mara, Etosha, South Luangwa and – of course – the Okavango. My goal was to capture the essence of a place in a single striking image, and I used my own experience of having been in these localities as well as my own sketches, drawings and photographs for reference. Popular tourist destinations such as Cape Town, Victoria Falls and my home town of Hermanus have been included in the initial range of 18 designs. As a long-time fan of ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, created by the Belgian artist and story-teller Hergé, I adopted the ‘ligne claire’ style which is distinguished by flat colours and black outlines. Typography was carefully selected to create a nostalgic feel of a bygone era. The finished designs are ‘vintage-style’ but can also be seen as refreshingly different in an age where photography of wildlife and landscapes prevails.
In some ways, the designs are a culmination of my own life story – a passion for wild places, art and travel. My passion for birds is shown with the inclusion of a bird species in each design, such as these Hartlaub’s Gulls on the Hermanus design.
The range is published by Nature Works and an online store is now open. Each ‘poster-print’ is available in three sizes, printed digitally on premium satin photo paper and ’signed by the artist’. You can explore The African Journey Collection here: https://dbnatureworks.com/