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Charley Harper, you’re our guy.


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Ahhh, Charley Harper! Charley Harper was a Cincinnati-based American artist who was best known for his highly stylized wildlife illustrations. His work has an amazing simplicity and charm—I just love it. And of course designer Todd Oldham loves him too. He and Charley developed a unique friendship and Oldham made it a passion of his to expose as many people as possible to his work. Since Charley’s passing in 2007, he has worked with the Harper estate to produce a ton of cool things. Like The Big Book of Charley (ok, ok, it’s really called Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life). This huge book (it’s gigantic) is a stunner. I don’t own it, but I’ve seen it and let’s just say you’ll need a big coffee table. (little tip, the book is a bit pricey, due to it’s large size, but it’s worth every penny! They re-issued it in a resized, smaller version that is much cheaper—$20— but I hear the quality isn’t quite as good. If you find a great deal on the book, make sure you check the size to see if you are buying the smaller version or the original!).

When Todd Oldham was at Old Navy (remember? he was the Creative Director for a while! I had totally forgotten about that…) he produced a really adorable kid’s collection, featuring Charley Harper artwork—board books, a memory game, a coloring book. We have them all and they are awesome.

In a style he called “minimal realism”, Charley Harper was able to capture the essence of his subjects as simply as possible. When asked to describe his art style, Harper replied,

“When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures.” — Frame House Gallery excerpt, 1977

Isn’t it gorgeous?? Of course you’ve probably heard about the new Todd Oldham line for Target, Kid Made Modern. It’s REEEALLY cute stuff….like these Paint By Numbers!

And then I discovered these adorable wood figures—little birds and leaves that you and your kiddo can paint. Sweet! I can’t wait to do these with Wolfie! {there are a ton of  other non-Charley Harper goodies in this line, I posted a bunch of photos on instagram under my handle: @galexina. You can see them here. You can also see more of the line in Last Month’s Hootenanny. #8 over here!)

Do you love his work as much as I do?? And are you planning on hitting up Target to scoop up some Kid Made Modern goodies??

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Posted in Art + Design, Best of Alix, Best of Modern Kiddo, Vintage Graphics.

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17 Responses

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  1. Erika says

    Wait! Are these available already? I thought they weren’t available until May 20th!

    • Alix says

      Check your target! They official launch date is May 20th but they had the full line at my Target!

      • Erika says

        Went yesterday! No luck. I guess mine is better at keeping things under wraps!

  2. Dottie says

    OK, I’m heading to Target TODAY then!

    A friend of mine just told me about his amazing children’s craft book that is a must have for any kiddo with a crafty bone in his body!

    • Alix says

      YES! The todd oldham book is “Kids Made Modern” which is what this line is a spin off of!

  3. Alice says

    OMG. I’m panting over here.

    • Alix says

      Get thee to a Target mama! haha

  4. katecake says

    I was totally looking for an excuse to go to Target tonight! Thanks for giving me one :-)

    • Alix says

      Let us know if you scored anything fun!!

  5. jeannie says

    I love Charley Harper’s work and I had no clue about the Kid Made Modern line. Off to google that one! Thanks for sharing!

    • Alix says

      The quality on the whole line seems to be really cool!

  6. katecake says

    Our Target has stuff from that line, but no Charley Harper. YET. I have another Target to look at…

  7. becky says

    One of my all time faves, Charley’s goodies were introduced to me when I was a little girl at nature camp at the Cincinnati Nature Center. All sorts of cool cardinals and such. I never knew he was famous until Todd Time Oldham had the prints hanging all over his country house. The original book is the biggest one I own and my cat Bubbs loves to sprawl her voluptuous bod all over it.

  8. Casey says

    Ooh! I wish my neice was a little bit older so we could do the paint by numbers together. There’s still no reason not to stockpile all of these things and save them for later, right? Hoarder schmoarder.

  9. Arianne says

    I loooove him and simply MUST get to Target asap. Gorgeous post, lady! xo

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Loving these Midcentury Preschool Puzzles! – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on October 10, 2012

    [...] THINGS! Cute cute cute! The chip monk is a little bit Charley Harper no? And I just love that snail! And the [...]



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