In an interview with Atlas Obscura’s Max Ufberg, legendary ski resort map artist James Niehues (no stranger to us here at The Map Room: previously) discusses some of the challenges involved in creating his paintings. For example:
What’s the most challenging aspect of the work? Showing all the trails in the most understandable and navigational way. It may not always be in one view, but I strive for the single view because it leaves no doubt about any trail connections or direction. Many mountains have slopes on more than one face, which requires manipulating the features to show the back side with the front on a flat sheet of paper. This has to be done with care since skiers will be referring to the image to choose their way down; all elements have to be relative to what they are experiencing on the mountain.
Kenneth Field has posted his favourite maps from the past year—something he’s been doing since 2013. Quite a diverse set, from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard to a Lego model of Manhattan: you won’t have seen all of them.
Earlier this year CityLab invited readers to submit maps of their life under lockdown. Now they’re soliciting reader maps again, with a slightly expanded focus: 2020 in general. (Which, in general, was a year: how do you represent that cartographically? That’s the idea.)
We’re inviting you, our readers, to create a homemade map of your life, community, workplace or broader surroundings as you experienced them in 2020. Show us how the extraordinary changes of this year have shown up in your life. Or, try to envision how this year will impact 2021. Perhaps you want to map the city you hope to see—changes in architecture, transportation or public space—or how you imagine, hope or fear humanity might be changed due to this collectively lived experience.
Here’s another map artist who draws maps of real-world places in the style of fantasy maps: Isaac of Lord of Maps has around 30 maps—mostly of U.S. states, but also a few countries and one city—available for sale as prints of various sizes. Style-wise they’re dead ringers for Christopher Tolkien’s maps of Middle-earth, down to the hill signs, trees and red lettering.
While you won’t find cities or borders on this map, you will find geographic labels. This is important. From mountain ranges to deserts, rivers to rainforests, the labels here offer a detailed, accurate outline of Earth’s natural geography.
The hundreds of different animals can evoke a feeling of place like few things can. Paired with the labels, this allows the map to be a powerful resource for learning Earth’s basic geography. While, I hope, drawing attention to the beauty and fragility of the natural world.
As of this month, Thomas has finished North America and has moved on to South America; he expects to be finished by the middle of next year (which is a lot faster than his first map, which took more than five years). The map uses the Natural Earth projection. [Kottke]
Artist and writer Andrew Barr is crowdfunding for what he is calling “the first major Scottish atlas for over 100 years”: a hand-drawn, hardcover Atlas of Scotland:
Produced as a visually striking hardback book, combining text with illustrated maps, the Atlas will shed new light on Scotland’s size and resources, its cultural and political history, as well as its long standing as one of the ancient kingdoms of Europe and the richness of its international connections.
As satellite images replace traditional paper atlases, modern technology leaves us with an incomplete picture of the nation. By returning to map-making in pen and ink, and by retelling the story of Scotland’s history and culture, this Atlas aims to delve deeper into the fabric of the land and reveal one of the world’s oldest nations in a whole new light.
Very much a nationalist project—and a personal project as well, which is not how atlases are usually done nowadays, hand-drawn or not. The atlas is projected to ship in October 2021. [History Scotland]
CBC News reports on a collaborative project to create province-by-province and state-by-state beaded maps of Canada and the United States. “Since March, dozens of Indigenous artists had been taking up a challenge to bead their states and provinces. Their hard work, diversity in beading styles, techniques, and cultural influences can be seen in a final map that was recently unveiled of both countries.” The project was coordinated by CeeJay Johnson of Kooteen Creations.
Mappery has photos of the new Keramieken Kaart van Delft (Ceramic Map of Delft), a remarkable large ceramic mosaic map based on a 1672 map by Frederick de Wit that is mounted to a brick wall on a street in Delft, the Netherlands. Designed by artist Nan Deardorff-McClain, the map was supported by a crowdfunding campaign and built by around 500 local volunteers. The grand opening was to have been in March, but the pandemic intervened. More photos are available at the project’s Facebook and Instagram pages; a short video on the making of the map is below (and on YouTube). Coverage in the Algemeen Dagblad is in Dutch, as are most of the links.
“My printer closed their doors for a few months just as my order went in,” Russell said of his map, which went to print right as the coronavirus halted New York’s spring. “Sadly, I have recently discovered that a handful of the businesses on The Great Map of Williamsburg have closed due to COVID. I will be delivering their maps to them this week as a bittersweet memory of what was. Some of them, like Brooklyn Charm, had been there for over a decade. I feel honored to have had the chance to be a part of their history.”
Both maps are available for sale as posters; Williamsburg costs $40 and Greenpoint costs $25. [News12 Brooklyn]
In the summer of 2019, a research project spearheaded by Monument Lab asked St. Louis residents and visitors to draw personal maps of the city’s monuments and important sites. “Some maps celebrate famous sites like the St. Louis Zoo and the statue of St. Louis himself atop Art Hill in Forest Park. Others point to things that have been removed from the landscape, like the mounds built by native Mississippians,” St. Louis Public Radio reports. “Another shows a street map of downtown St. Louis with notations for ‘incidents of racism, from microaggression to racial violence.’” A total of 750 people contributed maps, which you can see at this Flickr gallery as well as on the project website, which has accompanying data and analysis. [Osher]
David Cook has released his Illustrative Map of Japan, a hand-drawn pictorial map showing the principal Japanese islands in classic oblique, pictorial-map style. On Reddit Cook says that it took ten years, on and off, from concept to completion: “Conceptually I started in 2010, but actually drawing this version didn’t start until 2012 when I finally settled on a size and perspective. Tbh I did not work on it continuously all those years. The drawn portion wrapped up in 2017 and I didn’t start coloring it in until 2019.” It’ll be available for sale as a 24-by-36-inch print at some point. [r/MapPorn]