I started liking the late Cincinnati-based artist Charley Harper when I was a kid, growing up right down the street from a park, in which he designed the logo of a cardinal (Ohio's state bird). The park's little gift shop was full of merchandise with reprints of his signature naturalistic artwork -- mugs, postcard sets, lithograph prints, etc.
I started loving Harper about a decade later, ironically when his work became more widespread in the mainstream, as opposed to just beloved by a local niche. Lavish eye candy artbooks started being published, and soon Harper became more of a household name in the design/illustration (and general art) world. His highly stylized influence even reached mediums like animation (ever seen Samurai Jack)?
Nowadays, with his name more established on the national level, he's more prevalent than ever in his hometown, his signature bird paintings now bask beautifully on the sides of buildings downtown, and those little sets of calenders, postcards and prints that used to be in the local park gift shop have now populated just about every hip boutique gallery, hotel lobby, museum, etc.
What specifically inspired this post? This original piece that I found today at the Cincinnati's Natural History Museum. What also caught my eye is that he signed it in graphite pencil that you could barely make out rather than ink.
Also, kudos to you if you got the play on the Led Zeppelin song that is this post title.