On your way to the Badlands, and I encourage you to go because it’s surprisingly breathtaking, is the last stop you’ll encounter before entering the national park. The Ranch Store is a small gift shop that’s marked by a giant prairie dog and topped with a pretty awesome sign shaped like a steer. On the inside it’s your pretty standard gift shop stuff, but outside you not only get to see the six-ton prairie dog but you can feed real live prairie dogs that live in a nearby colony.
Because the prairie dogs are so abundant in South Dakota, and because of the The Ranch Store’s giant cement guardian, I wanted to focus on the animals themselves. Luckily the giant prairie dog is rather crude in construction so it was easy to illustrate it faithfully while making it still look distinctively different from the “real” prairie dogs. Since my illustrative style isn’t terribly realistic it’s something I always struggle with. I do have to admit that the more kitchey a giant totem to America is the more I love it.
The real concrete prairie dog is a bit more salmon in color than the almost pinkish-white he is here, but I like to try to keep a consistent color palette and I had already used the red and blue in single isolated locations. The pinkish-white is in fact the lighter hue of the red used on the store and similar tonally to the off white I used as highlights. In my head that made it okay to have so many single use colors.
The three prairie dogs in the front remind me of a rap album cover for some reason. There’s something in their posture that feels really ol’ skool. Even though this is a poster for The Ranch Store I wanted to make the animals the most prominent features of the poster. It’s an homage to the vintage Australian or safari travel posters that featured exotic animals.
Purchase a travel poster print over at Society6.
I’m not sure if I think the postcard is more or less successful than the travel poster. All of the elements are the same, The Ranch Store isn’t overflowing with visual excitement, but I made the store more prominent. I think compositionaly the elements of the postcard come together a bit better than the travel poster, but there’s something in the poster that speaks more to the destination.
As your last stop before the Badlands it really is tiny and isolated on the prairie, I like the feel of that.