The Festival of Personal Geographies explores the use of art in creating personalized maps. Running until March 19 at several venues in Ames, Iowa, the Festival consists of an exhibition (“‘Index to a Place,’ an exhibition of prints, drawings and paintings that use the graphical languages of maps as a starting point in their creation”) and four workshops on personalized mapmaking. The event is organized by local artist Tibi Chelcea and hosted by ISU’s Design on Main Gallery. Free admission, free registration.
Among artist Jake Berman’s many map-related projects are a series of retro transit maps—modern maps, in a modern style, of transit networks as they were in the past. Above is one example: Los Angeles’s long-defunct Pacific Electric streetcar network as it was in 1926. Other maps include San Francisco’s cable car network circa 1892, the Chicago L in 1921, the New York subway in 1939, and more. Posters, naturally, are available for sale. [Atlas Obscura]
With Barely Maps, Peter Gorman has reduced maps to their most minimalist, and their most cryptic: a grid of abstract shapes that represent the geometries of states, neighbourhoods, subway stops or intersections. Gorman started desigining them a few years ago as a side-gig, he writes. “Then, last year, my print ‘Intersections of Seattle’ went viral, and I decided to make the map-based art prints a full-time thing. Now, as I get close to 100 original maps, my next project is to compile a book of my designs, along with the stories that inspired them.” The maps are available for sale on Etsy; the book, he hopes, will be available by the end of 2019. [Kottke]
We’ve talked about James Niehues before: the legendary artist has painted hundreds of maps of ski resorts and recreational areas since the late 1980s. I was excited to learn that he’s producing a coffee table book that includes all of his maps. It’s being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. Pledging $75 or more gets you a copy of the book; other pledge levels get you a high-quality print. Clearly there’s some interest: at the moment the project has raised more than $223,000 from nearly 2,000 backers, 28 times its target of $8,000, with three weeks still to go. [Kottke]
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the Spartanburg Art Museum until 11 November: Land/Lines, an exhibition of map-inspired art by six artists—Robert Bubp, Jennifer Bueno, Firat Erdim, Chad Erpelding, Keren 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]
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.
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]
Updated "Serio-Comic Map" of Europe 2018 (after Fred W Rose), complete with Renaissance "wind-heads" for a nice, satisfied client. Lot of work but very enjoyable (and probably out of date by tomorrow) #politics #Europe pic.twitter.com/BB3ZNVFW8u
— Andy Davey (@DaveyCartoons) June 18, 2018
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]
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.