Creative Cartography: Making Art with Discarded Maps

Keren Shi, “The Magic Place.” Watercolour and cutting on maps. ASU Library.

Creative Cartography: Since 2014, students of Ellen Meissinger’s Art on Paper class at Arizona State University have taken discarded maps from ASU Library’s Map and Geospatial Hub and put them to use as raw material for art projects. Every year since then those projects have been the subject of an exhibition hosted by the Map and Geospatial Hub: this year’s exhibition, Place and Space, opened on 7 November and runs until the 26th. (That’s next Monday. Get a move on.) [WMS]

Eye of the Bird: An Exhibition of Bird’s-Eye Views of Washington, D.C.

Running until 23 December at the George Washington University Museum, Eye of the Bird: Visions and Views of D.C.’s Past is an exhibition of bird’s-eye views of the U.S. capital. Two new paintings by Peter Waddell specially commissioned for the exhibition—large, delicately detailed oil-on-canvas paintings that took two years to finish—serve as its centrepiece; paintings and artist are the subject of this Washington Post piece. [WMS]

Previously: The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection.

Itchy Feet’s Map of Every European City

Malachi Ray Rempen

The latest cartoon from Itchy Feet, a comic about travel and language by filmmaker Malachi Rempen, is a “Map of Every European City.” In the comments, the cartoonist says, “Having been to every single European city, I can safely say with confidence that they all look exactly like this.” I don’t think he’s wrong.

New Exhibition at the Leventhal: Crossing Boundaries

A new exhibition opened at the Leventhal Map Center today: Crossing Boundaries: Art // Maps “juxtaposes contemporary works of art with selected maps from the collections of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library. These pairings and trios create dialogues that illuminate the crossing of the traditional boundaries of art and maps, and stimulate a fresh appreciation of both media.” Runs until 20 April 2019; if you can’t make it to Boston there’s an online version.

Update, 24 October: Here’s a writeup from the Boston Globe.

The North American Continent: A Pictorial Map by Anton Thomas

Anton Thomas

Since 2014 Anton Thomas has been working on a large and detailed hand-drawn pictorial map of North America. Done on a 120-×-150-cm piece of art paper with coloured pencils and pen, and full of little pictorial details, The North American Continent has taken more than 4,000 hours to draw—and re-draw. In an update earlier this month, Anton estimates there are still 200 hours of work remaining; he expects to be done by December, with prints going on sale early next year.

The map was the subject of two talks Anton gave at NACIS last year: see Drawing a Continent by Hand and Methods of a Hand-Drawn Map. And take note: Anton lives in Australia, but at the moment he’s in the U.S. to give talks and work out printing and distribution. He’ll be giving a presentation tomorrow evening at the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. (Another talk is scheduled for October 24 at the Rumsey Map Center in San Francisco Stanford.)

Update: Another talk, on October 6, in New York.

Land/Lines: Map Art Exhibition in Spartanburg

Keren Kroul, Charted Memories, 2016. Watercolour on paper, 60′×96′.

At the Spartanburg Art Museum until 11 November: Land/Lines, an exhibition of map-inspired art by six artists—Robert BubpJennifer BuenoFirat ErdimChad ErpeldingKeren Kroul and Amy Schissel—who “use and respond to maps as a subject matter to question how we create and interpret boundaries.” News coverage. [WMS]

Maps Middle-earth Style: By Hand and by ArcGIS

John M. Nelson

Dan Bell’s career drawing maps of real-world places in the style of maps of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth continues apace; a recent piece, a map of San Francisco, got written up in the San Francisco Chronicle, and his website is full of other recent works.

But computer mapping may be about to overtake hand-drawn illustration. John M. Nelson has created an ArcGIS style that does the very thing Dan Bell does by hand: emulate the maps of Middle-earth executed by Christopher Tolkien and Pauline Baynes. The style is called, naturally, My Precious: John explains it here and here, and demonstrates the style with this map of the Americas.

There are, of course, some flaws in this method: a mechanical representation of a hand-drawn style risks falling into the uncanny valley’s cartographic equivalent, especially when mountain and forest signs are clone-stamped over large areas. And to be honest I’m not a fan of the Aniron font: those letterforms were used in the Lord of the Rings movies, but never the books’ maps, and now they’re found on damn near every Tolkien-style map, and we hates it, precious, we hates it forever. But Nelson is basically emulating modern fantasy map practice: modern fantasy maps are invariably done in Illustrator, labels are computer generated rather than hand-drawn, and hill signs are clone stamped. Applying it to real-world maps, and GIS software, is new, but a difference in degree.

Previously: Dan Bell’s ‘Tolkien-Style’ Maps of the Lake District.

Sarah Spencer’s Giant Star Map Tapestry

Sarah Spencer (Twitter)

This huge star map tapestry is the work of Australian maker Sarah Spencer, who created it by hacking a 1980s-era knitting machine. Yes, this thing was knitted: it apparently took more than 100 hours and 15 kg (33 lbs) of (locally sourced Australian) wool to produce this 4.6×2.8-metre (15×9-foot) monster, which is accurate (with the caveat that an equatorial projection distorts familiar circumpolar constellations) and reasonably detailed: the constellations are labelled and the stars’ apparent magnitude is indicated. Space.com has the story. [Boing Boing]

Another Caricature Map of Modern Europe

In December 2016 cartoonist Andy Davey created, for a private client, a modern-day “serio-comic” map of Europe in the style of the caricature maps that proliferated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now he’s created another one in the same style, this one even better than the last: it features political figures in the shape of their countries, with leaders from elsewhere in the world blowing wind in Europe’s direction. Very easy to get lost in the detail here. [WMS]

Maps of London and Beyond

Adam Dant’s Maps of London and Beyond (Batsford, 7 June) is a collection of the artist’s “beautiful, witty and subversive” maps. From the publisher: “Traversed by a plethora of colourful characters including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mary Wollstonecraft and Barbara Windsor, Adam Dant’s maps extend from the shipwrecks on the bed of the Thames to the stars in the sky over Soho. Along the way, he captures all the rich traditions in the capital, from brawls and buried treasure to gin and gentlemen’s clubs.”

Dant’s maps have been appearing on the Spitalfields Life blog for several years: start with this post and follow the links. They’re also the subject of at least two exhibitions in London right now: one at The Map House, which runs until the 14th; and one at Town House, which runs until the 22nd.

A second book by Dant, Living Maps: An Atlas of Cities Personified, comes out in October from Chronicle. [Mapping London]

The Illustrated Football Atlas

Created by designer Michael Raisch to coincide with the 2018 FIFA World Cup, The Illustrated Football Atlas combines vintage maps with drawings of the respective countries’ players. For more about this project, there’s an interview with Raisch at both The Guardian and These Football Times. [Mark Safran]

A Collection of Rand McNally Road Atlas Covers

The Rand McNally Road Atlas has long been a staple of North American travellers. The company—still around—is celebrating the atlas’s 95th edition by putting out a retrospective volume of the road atlas’s covers: American Journey: A Treasury of Rand McNally Road Atlas Covers (Rand McNally, 3 June) is a slim hardcover volume: 96 pages, enough for one page per edition. CNN Travel has coverage. [WMS]

New and Reissued Books for April 2018

New Editions

The third edition of Mark Monmonier’s classic How to Lie with Maps (University of Chicago Press, 1o April) “includes significant updates throughout as well as new chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and online maps. It also includes an expanded section of color images and an updated list of sources for further reading.” I reviewed the second edition back in May 2006. Amazon, iBooks

The Phantom AtlasThe Phantom Atlas, Edward Brooke-Hitching’s book about fictitious places that were once presented as real places, came out in the U.K. in November 2016. Though North American buyers could get a copy via online sellers, a proper U.S. edition (Chronicle, 3 April) is now available. The Wall Street Journal, of all places, has a review. Previously: The Phantom AtlasMore on Two Books About Nonexistent Places. Amazon, iBooks (U.K. edition, U.S. edition)

New in April

Zayde Antrim’s Mapping the Middle East (Reaktion, 1 April) “explores the many perspectives from which people have visualized the vast area lying between the Atlantic Ocean and the Oxus and Indus river valleys over the past millennium. By analysing maps produced from the eleventh century on, Zayde Antrim emphasizes the deep roots of mapping in a world region too often considered unexamined and unchanging before the modern period. Indeed, maps from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, coinciding with the eras of European colonialism and the rise of the nation-state, have obscured this deeper past and constrained future possibilities.” Amazon

Jeremy Black’s Mapping Shakespeare: An Exploration of Shakespeare’s Worlds Through Maps (Conway, 10 April) “looks at the England, Europe, and wider world in which Shakespeare worked through maps and illustrations that reveal the way that he and his contemporaries saw their land and their place in the world. It also explores the locations of his plays and looks at the possible inspirations for these and why Shakespeare would have chosen to set his stories there.” Amazon, iBooks

The Art of Map Illustration: A Step-by-Step Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Cartography and Mapmaking (Walter Foster, 3 April), an illustrated guide featuring the work and method of four map illustrators (James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill and Sarah King), was reviewed on The Map Room earlier this month. Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2018.

Spacing Seeks ‘Creative Maps’ of Canadian Cities

Spacing magazine is looking for “creative maps”—by which they mean pictorial maps or map illustrations—of Canadian cities.

There has been an explosion of maps that are not necessarily meant to be used for directions, but instead are considered works of art and inspired imagination. We want you to create an illustrative map that reflects a Canadian city (or a neighbourhood, community) or is inspired by the urban elements that make up a city (examples: waterfront, transit, cycling, walking, graffiti, parks, architecture, laneways/alleys, streets, traffic, taxis, weather, sewers, infrastructure, etc.)

You’ve got until the end of April. Submission guidelines here; includes some examples from the 2012 iteration of this competition (see above).