Alex Russell’s Great Maps of Brooklyn

Alex Russell, “The Great Map of Williamsburg” (2020)

Last October, Alex Russell released his first pictorial map of a Brooklyn neighbourhood, the Great Map of Greenpoint. It was begun, he says, “as an effort to drive business around the neighborhood. As a restaurant owner in Greenpoint, it was to draw attention to everything this great little area had to offer.” His follow-up, the Great Map of Williamsburg (above), ran straight into the pandemic, as Greenpointers reports:

“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]

An Illustrative Map of Japan

An Illustrative Map of Japan
David Cook

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]

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.

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.

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.

A Persuasive Cartography Roundup

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler, “Next!” Puck, 7 Sept 1904. P. J. Mode Collection, Cornell University Library.

Cornell University Library has been home to the P. J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography since 2014, and that collection is very much available online. Today, though, a new exhibition of maps from that collection opens at the Carl A. Kroch Library’s Hirshland Exhibition Gallery. Latitude: Persuasive Cartography runs until 21 February 2020.

Cornell isn’t the only repository of maps intended to persuade or propagandize. The Library of Congress acquired a collection of 180 such maps, focusing on war and propaganda in the first half of the 20th century, in 2016.

Previously: Persuasive Cartography; Another Look at Persuasive Cartography; Persuasive Cartography Collection Expands, P. J. Mode Interviewed.

The Art of Illustrated Maps

Map illustrations. Illustrated maps. Pictorial maps. Map art. There are many different names for a form of mapmaking that is, to appropriate a phrase, “not intended for navigation,” but rather for purposes such as advertising and promotion, political propoganda, decoration, or simply pure art. You may not be able to find your way home with such maps, but that’s not to say they don’t have a purpose.

I’ve reviewed books about maps in this general field before. Stephen J. Hornsby’s Picturing America (reviewed here) explores the rich pictorial map tradition in the United States during the early and mid-20th century. The Art of Map Illustration (reviewed here), on the other hand, is a focused, step-by-step guide to the how of modern-day map illustration.

The Art of Illustrated Maps: A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking’s History, Process and Inspiration (HOW Books, October 2015) falls somewhere in between. Written by John Roman, it’s a book that talks about the creative process in considerable detail, and gives many contemporary examples of map illustrations, but tries to place that process in the context of the history of map illustrations.

Continue reading “The Art of Illustrated Maps”

An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland

Bernard Sleigh, “An anciente mappe of Fairyland: newly discovered and set forth,” ca. 1917. Map illustration, 147 × 39 cm. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library.

An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland,” produced by Bernard Sleigh around 1917, is a marvellous conflation of classical myth and fairy tales. Nearly five feet wide, it was apparently designed to hang in nurseries. The echoes of its design elements can still be seen in later fantasy maps and children’s book illustrations, such as E. H. Shepard’s maps of the Hundred Acre Wood and Pauline Baynes’s maps of Narnia, though none of them are this vibrant.

It was making the rounds a month or two back, probably because a copy was being offered for sale: Atlas Obscura, Kottke. High-resolution digital versions are available via the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Center, the British Library and the Library of Congress; the Leventhal’s reproduction is is much more brightly coloured and in the best shape. The map came with an accompanying booklet.

Previously: The British Library on Fantasy Maps.

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.

For Sale: Original Copy of Chicago Gangland Map

A Map of Chicago’s Gangland from Authentic Sources (Bruce Roberts, 1931). Map, 71×57 cm. Daniel Crouch Rare Books.

Much is being made of the sale by Daniel Crouch Rare Books of an original copy of a pictorial map of Prohibition-era Chicago. Published in 1931, A Map of Chicago’s Gangland from Authentic Sources featured the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and other episodes from Chicago’s gang wars and numerous other scenes of rum-running, police corruption and gang activity. So naturally the authorities did their best to suppress the map. The map will be on display at the London Map Fair this weekend; Daniel Crouch is asking £20,000 for it. But if you don’t have that kind of money, other copies do exist in libraries, such as Chicago’s Newberry Library, which I believe has sold facsimile reprints of the map. See coverage from Atlas Obscura, CBS Chicago and the Daily Mail. [Tony Campbell]

Map of the Late Jurassic World

Paleoartist Julio Lacerda has produced a pictorial map of the world as it was during the Late Jurassic (163½ to 145 million years ago). Available via Studio 252MYA, which sells paleontology-related swag (we have their Lambeosaurus pillow—it was a housewarming gift), it comes as either as a poster or as a framed print, and in two sizes; prices range from $26.50 to $142. Julio is threatening to do maps of other periods, which I hope he follows through on.

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).

The Art of Map Illustration

What do we mean by mapmaking? That’s a less straightforward question than it appears at first glance. A cartographer might talk about projections, scale, use of symbols, deciding which information to put on the map; a digital mapmaker might emphasize GIS and data layers and data sources. Your assumptions about what mapmaking is depends largely on the maps your yourself make. And what we mean by “map” can be quite different depending on the context.

The four illustrators who collaborated on The Art of Map Illustration: A Step-by-Step Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Cartography and Mapmaking (Walter Foster, April 2018) use the terms cartography and mapmaking rather differently. These four—James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill and Sarah King—are illustrators first and foremost. Their maps are neither accurate nor detailed; like decorative nautical charts, they’re not for use in navigation, and they say as much at more than one point. But they can also be seen, I think, as the modern-day descendants of the 20th-century pictorial map (about which see Stephen J. Hornsby’s Picturing America, which I reviewed here last November).

Continue reading “The Art of Map Illustration”