It’s the National Park Service’s centennial birthday this year, and you know who’s pumped for it? Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The actor, director and founder of the online artist and production community hitRECord teamed up with the National Park Service to create a limited-edition collection to celebrate the NPS’s 100th anniversary. The pieces include several tees, accessories like a trucker hat and tote bag, an adorable onesie, and a 92-page coloring book, all emblazoned with the tagline of the centennial, “Find Your Park.” They are all available at store.findyourpark.com.
“This is something I’m honored to participate in,” Gordon-Levitt told PeopleStyle when we caught up with him to discuss the collaboration. “So much great art is inspired by nature. I personally have an emotional connection to national parks because I grew up going camping with my family. For us, it was the Yosemite National Park in California. Now, I like Big Sur, Limekiln State Park, or Kern River County Park, which is a closer drive. But any national park is a great setting for art, or a setting for a story or a subject for an illustration.”
The way his collection of items came together was slightly atypical—a.k.a. Gordon-Levitt didn’t actually design anything himself. Rather, he enlisted his hitRECord community of 500,000-plus artists to submit designs for the project. He said “tons of contributions” came in from people all over the world. “I’m not very good at drawing or graphic design at all,” he noted, “so I played the role of director and curator. We filtered through a massive number of contributions to find the gems, and those are the designs that made it to the finished project.”
Courtesy of the National Park Service
And not one design made it in without his approval. “I’m always the final sign-off on all our productions on HitRecord,” he said. “I always say this, half-jokingly, but hitRECord is not a democracy, it’s a benevolent dictatorship. That’s like a movie set, and I grew up working on movie sets. On a movie set, there are lots and lots of people who collaborate—and you need all those people to make the movie—but ultimately there’s a director whose job it is to keep everyone on the same page. So all of the credit goes to the great artists, but my job is the director to make sure they all work together.”
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His priorities for the collaboration included T-shirts that he himself would wear, and the so-called “gems” that made it in include Ts showing snow-capped mountains as well as a van winding around a bend en route to go camping. “I would say if you saw me every day, you’d probably notice that one out of every three days, I’m wearing a hitRECord T-shirt,” he said.
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He also wanted to include a piece of children’s clothing to help inspire a new generation of park lovers, and that includes his own family—he had a son in August 2015 with wife Tasha McCauley. “I do have a baby son, and I do anticipate that he’ll be wearing this onesie,” he said.
Courtesy of the National Park Service
And this is just the start: The hitRECord community will continue to work on and release projects for the National Park Service throughout the summer, just in time for peak park-visiting season. “I hope people get a chance to visit a national park, which are national treasures,” he said. “I was surprised to learn there are hundreds and hundreds of them.” (There are 411 to be exact, according to the NPS.)
“What a great way to spend some time,” he added. “And that’s the message, find your park near you… and that’s a worthwhile message to me.”
Do you like JGL’s collection for the National Park Service centennial? Let us know in the comments below!
—Sharon Clott Kanter