The United States’ national parks are an endless source of inspiration for artists—but only if they’re protected. To help preserve the parks’ natural beauty, 500px travel photographer Oscar Nilsson partnered with the National Park Foundation to form The Art Rangers: a community of artists helping to save the parks. We spoke with Oscar about the project, why the parks need protection now more than ever, how to get involved, and more.

Q: What is The Art Rangers?

A: The Art Rangers is a community of artists with a vision to save the U.S. national parks using art. We sell art pieces of, and inspired by, the 59 U.S. national parks, and 100% of the proceeds go straight to preserving those same parks. We’re officially partnering up with the National Park Foundation to make sure the funds go to the most critical conservation and preservation efforts. To gather these art pieces, we’re depending on talented artists that share the same awe for national parks and want to give back by donating their images, and joining our Art Rangers community.

In short, we allow people to purchase mesmerizing art of the U.S. national parks, and while doing so also help protect them for future generations.

In between the trees by Oscar Nilsson on

Q: Tell us about why you started The Art Rangers project.

A: Since I moved to the U.S. about five years ago, I’ve been blown away by how much beautiful nature the country has to offer, and in particular, how well kept it is. My own passion for photography and the outdoors has elevated to a whole new level with all the inspiration I’ve found in the national parks, and I’ve been wanting to find a way to give back. I noticed that this appreciation for national parks is shared by a number of talented artists across creative fields, in particular, among fellow photographers. We saw an opportunity for creators to give back the way they know best: through art. My partner Alex Tatem and I came up with the idea about a year ago, and it’s slowly grown into what Art Rangers is today.

I want to sip the last light with a straw until th ... by Oscar Nilsson on

Q: Why support national parks, specifically?

A: I think we’ve gotten used to the idea of national parks always being there for us, as an escape, as a playground, and as a source of inspiration. But the reality is that there aren’t enough public funds to keep up with the need for preservation of the 84 million acres of natural treasures. It’s important for me, and for us all, to consider how we can help ensure the parks will continue to be there for us, and for generations to come.

Adventure #squadgoals by Oscar Nilsson on

Q: Who are some of the creators involved in the project so far?

A: Currently we have prints that have been donated by:

Glacier Point by Eric Rubens on

Q: What’s your favorite photo that has been donated to The Art Rangers so far?

A: Morgan Phillips was one of our first contributing photographers to the project, and he is the type of artist we love to work with. He shares our passion for the outdoors and was quick to jump on the opportunity to donate his art to this cause. He donated several amazing images from his travels, and this image from Angel’s Landing in Zion is one of my personal favorites. You can tell that he’s a true admirer of the national parks by browsing through his amazing work.

Photo credit: Morgan Phillips for The Art Rangers

Q: What’s been the most inspiring part of the project for you?

A: For me, personally, the most inspiring part has been the response we’ve received. We’ve gotten so many encouraging words along the way, and that alone has been enough for me to know that we’re onto something. My team and I are all donating our time for free to the project, so to receive this kind of feedback after a year of preparation and development makes me want to keep pushing, and to turn this into something even greater. I think this goes beyond The Art Rangers, and I hope that our efforts could help inspire other projects and organizations to get involved and help us protect the national parks.

Happy 100th birthday to America's best idea to date; the National Park Service by Oscar Nilsson on

Q: What’s next for The Art Rangers?

A: We’re currently looking to find more contributing photographers to donate their images to the cause, so we can keep building out our print gallery. We’re hoping, with time, to become a destination for people looking to purchase art prints—knowing that by purchasing something beautiful for yourself or a friend, you are also committing to keeping the US national parks beautiful.

We are also hosting a live gallery show in San Francisco at the beginning of 2018, with live painting, beautiful images, musical performances and more, all inspired by the national parks. If you’re based in or around California, you can stay updated on the event by signing up to The Art Rangers newsletter.

Q: How can the 500px community get involved?

A: There are a number of ways you can get involved with The Art Rangers:

You either make dust or eat dust. by Oscar Nilsson on