There is an undeniable relationship between art and cartography—from the early maps sketched on cave walls to the high-tech digital maps of today. Cartography, after all, has always been a interpretive exercise in charting territories, mapping routes and trade winds, declaring borders and proclaiming “here be dragons.”
Today, as we modern-day explorers find ourselves less engaged with physical versions of these geographical representations, it’s easy to appreciate maps as a yesteryear art and less as a travel utility. In a sense, the artists in this gallery only accelerate the blurring of these lines between cartography and art.
There are artists like Paula Scher and Design Ahoy, whose prints resemble maps as much as they do art. Others take a more innovative approach to creating and using cartography. For example, Jason LaFerrera crafts digital collages of animals made from vintage maps of the state most associated with each animal. LaFerrera, along with Matthew Cusick and Shannon Rankin, incorporate maps in their work, but their designs are far more art than map. In a category all her own, Emily Garfield fashions stunning watercolor maps of imaginary places.
Regardless of artistic process and end result, these eight artists incorporate maps into their art and in doing so strike a nostalgic chord with the travel of an era past, while playing to modern emotions that relate to our view of the world as a whole and where we fit into it.
1. Jason LaFerrera; $50-$250. 2. Emily Garfield; $30. 3. Ewan David Eason” 4. Design Ahoy; $100-$225. 5. ImagineNations; $75. 6. Matthew Cusick 7. Shannon Rankin 8. Paula Scher
Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India, conquering volcanoes in the Philippines and being humbled in Haiti.