David Nuttall’s Maps of Fictional Places

An excerpt from David Nuttall's hand-drawn map of the fictional islands of Kjempsavor Ayars.
David Nuttall

Geofiction involves creating imaginary worlds through maps—maps of fictional places, but without the story attached—and David Nuttall has been at it since the age of five. He says he’s gotten better since then (his gallery, sorted by medium: see if he’s right). One of his maps is featured in the new (6th) volume of the NACIS Atlas of Design; Nat Case writes about it here:

David’s maps do wear the sorts of stylistic suits of clothes “regular” referential maps use. They studiously use stylesheets from particular eras and schools of cartography. And the “places” mapped, like most historical fiction, has strong roots in actual geographies. The patterns of settlement and transportation, the way landforms relate to one another: David knows his stuff. And so this map, “Kjempsavor Ayars,” looks like the Faeroes … and the Shetlands, the Outer Hebrides, or the islands of Norway. And the map artwork looks a lot like a kind of map-making from the early mid-20th century, where old schools of hand-lettering and drafting met an ever-more-engineered modern world. But, and this is such a puzzle to know what to do with: It’s not actually of anywhere. There’s no stories to back you up about this bridge or that ferry route, the Viking history of that settlement or the modern fishing industry at that port. It suggests there ought to be a history like that, but it unexpectedly leaves you with that job.

The Atlas of Design, vol. 6, costs $25 and can be bought here; David’s shop is here.