Through typography and design, Austin organization Type Hike encourages others to appreciate the country’s national parks and raise money to keep them accessible.
Story by Marina Marquez
Photos by Christiana Sullivan
In 2016, a record-breaking 331 million people visited national parks. Despite this visitation rate, only one-in-five Americans say they make an effort to make decisions that help the environment “all the time,” and only 32 percent of millennials view themselves as environmentalists, according to the Pew Research Center.
“These parks are in way under attack right now,” Keith Young, a Type Hike artist says. “We want people to see that these parks are more than just the resources corporations can use them for.”
James Walker, co-founder of Type Hike and graphic design professor at the University of Texas at Austin, founded the organization to provide ways to help national parks and charities that save endangered animals. 100 percent of the proceeds from the art sold both at the exhibition and from the Type Hike website go directly to their partner non-profit organizations. Walker says raising awareness is the first step to getting people to appreciate national parks and the wildlife they are homes to.
“When you aren’t experiencing the outdoors you have no empathy for it, which means you won’t be respectful or aware of the best practices to take care of it,” Walker says. “If we can remind people of the number of parks available in the United States and their features, we can protect them.”
All of the artists in the exhibition use different mediums but dedicate themselves to the intricacies of typography to fulfill Type Hike’s mission, which is “the belief that all designers are obligated to use their talent and ability to make the world a more beautiful place.”
Though Young is primarily a painter for corporate rebranding, he designed the piece “Black Canyon” for the exhibition.
“I felt compelled to do this because all over the U.S., parks and the arts are being defunded,” Young says. “ I feel like whatever opportunity I have to send good vibes and a good message into the world, I need to take it.”
Steve Wolf is another designer featured in the exhibition, who created the piece, “California Condor.” He said he joined Type Hike because it gives him the ability to use his artistic talents for the greater good.
“I want to keep finding ways to use my talents and knowledge for good causes and Type Hike is one of those places that allows me to do just that,” Wolf says. “Typography can convey a certain mood or feeling, and allowing the viewer the ability to read the information and process it makes the design easier to understand.”
Walker says raising awareness for the environment is more important now than ever because it is under attack and in danger of being privatized instead of protected by the government.
“There have been plans put forward to sell these parks to private companies so they can harvest their resources from them but still call them a “park,” Walker says. “When you buy a poster, you’re not just paying us — you’re giving to the parks to ensure that they stay in tact.”
The exhibit is open at the AT&T Center’s Courtyard Gallery until January 2018.