‘The Monsters of Maps’: A Video About Caricature Maps

The Monsters of Maps,” a 10-minute video by Richard Tilney-Bassett, explores the late-19th- and early-20th-century phenomenon of “serio-comic” or caricature maps, which are no stranger to us here. In the video Richard wonders what a modern-day caricature map would look like; I’d point him to the work of Andy Davey (see here and here).

How to Make an Illustrated Map

Five Squares + One Triangle in My Neighborhood (Nate Padavick)
Nate Padavick (The New York Times)

In the travel section of yesterday’s New York Times, map illustrator Nate Padavick offers a way to make lemonade from travel-restriction lemons with a short guide to making an illustrated map (pictorial map, map illustration—the terms are roughly interchangeable) of a favourite place—a neighbourhood, a vacation spot, “a place you’ve never been.”

The rigid and scientific rules of cartography simply do not apply here! Nope. While an illustrated map is often a wildly useless tool for providing directions, it can be a beautiful and highly personal reflection of a place you, friends and family know quite well. It can tell a story, a personal history, or be a unique lens through which one can experience a special place. An illustrated map can be loose and hand-drawn, filled with fun drawings and doodles that together make a sometimes inaccurate, but always spot on record of a memory or a place from one’s own perspective.

Not the first time we’ve seen map art as lockdown activity. Previously: Maps from Isolation; CityLab Wants Your Hand-Drawn Quarantine Maps; Still More Coronavirus Maps; Fuller’s Quarantine Maps.

CityLab Wants Your Hand-Drawn Quarantine Maps

CityLab is asking readers to send them hand-made maps of their life under quarantine.

We’re inviting readers to draw a map of your life, community, or broader world as you experience it under coronavirus. Your map can be as straightforward or subjective as you wish. You might show key destinations, beloved neighbors, a new daily routine, the people or restaurants you miss, the future city you hope to see, or anything else that’s become important to you right now. It might even be a map of your indoor life. For an added challenge, try drawing from memory.

Deadline is 20 April, with a selection of submissions to be featured in a future article.

Prior art would include Fuller’s quarantine maps and Kera Till’s “Commuting in Corona Times” (previously).

Preorders Open for Anton Thomas’s North America Map

North America: Portrait of a Continent (Anton Thomas)It’s been years in the making, but prints of Anton Thomas’s pictorial map, North America: Portrait of a Continent, can now be pre-ordered.

Three versions are available: a 42×52-inch (107×132.5-cm) poster, a 44×54-inch (111.7×138.3-cm) giclée print in a limited edition of 1,200, and a 48×59-inch (121×149.6-cm) giclée print in a limited edition of 400. Prices will be shown in your local currency: in Canadian dollars they’re $95, $490 and $765, respectively. These are discounted prices for pre-orders. Shipping outside Australia will be by UPS (I was quoted a shipping fee of US$35 at checkout), and will begin on April 16.

My main concerns are where I’m going to put it, and how I’m going to have it framed. But I’ll worry about that later.

Previously: The North American Continent: A Pictorial Map by Anton Thomas; An Update on Anton Thomas’s Map of North America.

Fuller’s Quarantine Maps

Gareth Fuller: Quarantine Maps: Day 4
Gareth Fuller

Gareth Fuller, whom we first heard about thanks to his masterpiece London Town, is in the news again. Now based in Beijing, he found himself forced to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from a trip to Kuala Lumpur. Fuller has mapped every place he has lived, so he spent his two weeks of isolation creating quarantine maps—one for each day. The maps are claustrophobic—his apartment is 590 square feet—metaphorical, even fantastical. They’re very much on-point in this age of self-isolation and social distancing. They’re available as a set of postcards for £14, which is considerably cheaper than his other limited edition prints.

Last fall Fuller released a tourist map of Pyongyang (BBC News). I seem to have missed his map of Beijing when it came out.

Previously: Fuller: London Town; Fuller Update.

James Niehues Creates an Amtrak Network Map Full of Ski Hills

James Niehues

James Niehues is legendary for his pictorial maps of ski resorts—a collection of them was published last year—so it’s no surprise that when Amtrak approached him to create a route map for their on-train magazine, The National, he remained true to his particular idiom, “taking a few liberties to highlight the country’s major ski regions—the Great Plains are shrunken, while the Rockies loom large. ‘I hope nobody takes it too seriously,’ he cautions.”

Previously: Book of Niehues Ski Resort Art Now Available; Crowdfunding a Book of James Niehues’s Ski Resort Art; A Video Profile of James Niehues, Ski Resort Map Artist; James Niehues Passes the Torch; James Niehues’s Ski Resort Maps; James Niehues Profile.

An Update on Anton Thomas’s Map of North America

Anton Thomas’s pictorial map of North America (previously) is now complete, and he’ll be selling giclée prints and posters from his website soon. (I know exactly where mine will be going.) In the above video, he looks at the multiyear process of creating the map—on paper, with pencils and pen, and how he had to correct and redraw (the inked parts!) as he went. Here’s an interview he did with Atlas Obscura last month.

Vanessa Barragão’s Botanical Tapestry

Vanessa Barragão, ”Botanical Tapestry,” 2019. Wool, cotton and jute, 6 m × 2 m. Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2.

A massive, six-by-two-metre textile tapestry map of the world is now installed in the departure area of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2. It’s called “Botanical Tapestry,” and it’s the work of Portuguese textile artist Vanessa Barragão. It took her 520 hours to make, using different techniques like latch hook, crochet and felt needle to achieve different textures; it also took 42 kg of recycled wool, plus another 8 kg of cotton and jute. [Geography Realm, My Modern Met]

Book of Niehues Ski Resort Art Now Available

The Man Behind the Map, the coffee table book of Jim Niehues’s ski resort maps whose crowdfunding campaign I told you about last year, is now available for sale.

The Man Behind the Maps (cover)The book is nearly 300 pages long, contains more than 200 ski resort maps, and costs $90. That seems high, but printing a full-colour book in small or print-on-demand batches doesn’t come cheap.

Previously: Crowdfunding a Book of James Niehues’s Ski Resort Art; A Video Profile of James Niehues, Ski Resort Map Artist; James Niehues Passes the Torch; James Niehues’s Ski Resort Maps; James Niehues Profile.

Kickstarter for the Book Version of Barely Maps

Earlier this year I told you about Barely Maps, the minimalist map project undertaken by Peter Gorman, who in a series of posters reduced maps to their most cryptic and abstract state. He’s been selling prints on Etsy, but now Peter has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the next phase of his project: a book that collects 100 of his minimalist maps, along with the stories behind their creation.

Peter sent me a proof copy of the book. The cover is as minimalist as you might expect from such a project. The maps are familiar if you’ve been following the Barely Maps project: here they take up an entire right-hand page, with a brief description on the facing page.

Peter is using offset printing to produce this book, which requires a 250-copy minimum print run. Supporting the Kickstarter starts at $39, which gets you one copy of the book and free U.S. shipping. Higher tiers add map prints to the cart. As I write this post, the Kickstarter is about 88 percent of the way to its $10,000 goal.

Heinrich C. Berann

Henrich C. Berann, “Panorama of Denali,” 1994. U.S. National Park Service.

I can’t believe that, other than a brief mention in 2010, I’ve never written anything about the cartographic artist Heinrich C. Berann (1917-1992), whose work includes panoramic paintings for National Geographic and, in his later years, for the National Park Service. (To be honest, they remind me of Jim Niehues’s ski resort maps, but that surely should be the other way around.) He also worked with Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen to turn their physiographic maps of the ocean floor into works of art.

Some links: Kottke looks at his panoramic paintings; so did All Over the Map last year. Also last year, The Map Designer has examples from Berann’s entire career. This site is maintained by one of Berann’s grandsons.

Keith Myrmel’s Hand-Drawn Trail Maps

Keith Myrmel

Keith Myrmel, a retired landscape architect from Minnesota, has produced two maps of the Boundary Waters region that are proving popular with hikers and canoers. The maps—one of the Superior Hiking Trail, the other of the North Country Trail and Arrowhead region—are large (26 by 40 inches) and intricately hand-drawn. The Twin Cities Pioneer Press covered Myrmel and his work last June:

“It’s fascinating how many people are map lovers,” Myrmel said. He has an extensive collection of Boundary Waters Wilderness maps dating back to the 1950s. “I said, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this old-school style. It’s all by hand.”

Using pencils, markers and watercolor paint, he put down information from books, maps, the internet and personal experience on a 2-by-13-foot map. The process took hundreds of hours, he said.

See also this 2018 story from the Star Tribune. The maps cost $34 or $35 and are available for sale from Myrmel’s website or from a number of local businesses.