Review: From Here to There

From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association
by Kris Harzinski
Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. Paperback, 224 pp. ISBN 978-1-56898-882-5

Book cover: From Here to There The Hand Drawn Map Association has come a long way since I first encountered it in February 2008. Back then I observed that they hadn’t received many map submissions so far; now there are 265 of them. Not only that, thanks to a call for submissions in early 2009, there’s now this book, out this month from Princeton University Press and written by the HDMA’s founder, Kris Harzinski. From Here to There is a diverse collection of more than hand-drawn maps, ranging from scribbles on scrap paper — the kind of map done quickly to give directions to a friend — to impressive works of art.

From Here to There is divided into six sections:

  1. “Direction Maps” (those quick, scribbled maps of directions);
  2. “Found Maps” (literally: these are discarded maps people found);
  3. “Fictional Maps” (maps of made-up places, incidentally one of my favourite things ever);
  4. “Artful Maps” (maps that are, as Harzinski says, “more elaborate than other maps in the archive, or works that use cartography as a point of reference” — these wouldn’t be out of place in a Katherine Harmon collection);
  5. “Maps of Unusual Places” (a small collection of “non-geographic” maps, such as Marilyn Murphy’s “Humira Injections,” a map of injection sites on the artist’s body); and
  6. “Explanatory Maps” (that explain concepts rather than give directions).

In each case, the real interest is often the story behind the map (each one is captioned) rather than the map’s intrisic cartographic or artistic virtues — though several maps show real achievements in art or surprisingly good cartography. In its caption, we learn that Lola Pellegrino’s “I Heard You Broke Up with Your Boyfriend” caused all kinds of trouble. But “Bike Map of Wedding” (a district in Berlin) and Chris Collier’s “Remembered Map of a Childhood World” are extremely sharp and detailed work. Shane Watt’s amazing “Empatheia” is given a full-colour two-page spread.

These maps, as far as I can tell, are not available on the HDMA website; you’ll have to buy the book to see them. (Reviews of this book by Ace Jet 170, Book by Its Cover and DesignNote’s review have some photos of the interior pages.) But with a list price of $17.50 (and available for a lot less than that on and elsewhere), this inexpensive little book is surprisingly good value. I don’t know what kind of paper the publisher is using — it’s not glossy — but it reproduces the colours really well, something I’d have expected from glossier, heavier stock. I have no trouble recommending this whimsical and quirky gem of a book.

I received a review copy of this book.

Previously: Reuters on Hand-Drawn Maps; A Book of Hand-Drawn Maps: From Here to There; Hand Drawn Map Association Book and Contest.