Monthly Archives: September 2012

Three Questions: Adam Wilbert, CartoGaia

September 27, 2012

For the second in our series of short interviews with Atlas of Design contributors, we bring you Adam Wilbert, the mastermind behind Oyster Appellations of the Pacific Northwest, Sheet 2 of 4: Northern Puget Sound. Adam is a cartographer, photographer, teacher (check him out on Lynda!) and principal of cartoGaia. After seeing his work here and in the book, you will surely want to follow him on Twitter.

Atlas of Design: After the inevitable robot takeover, you are hired to teach cartography to our new digital masters. What is their first lesson?


You read that right. Stop doing that. I would instruct the robots to bring in more tactile emotion mixed with a helping of heart. Then I would point and laugh and increase my fees.

Click to preview pages 52-54

AoD: Why did you put this map on ice for a time?

Adam: I’m sure it’s the same with most cartographers—and freelance designers in general—that you always have some pet projects in the mix when a big priority and time-sensitive gig jumps the queue. So in part, this project got bumped because of that. On this map it actually gave me more time to work on new techniques involving actual real life brushes and ink washes and—gasp—paper. Real paper. Everything was eventually scanned into the computer and composited on screen through various opacity masks and overlays, but there is a human’s touch at the core of these maps, which is why I think they’ve been received so well.

AoD: This map was made to hang in an oyster bar you frequent. Are you planning on making maps for other kinds of food you eat?

Adam: I am actually really interested in the geography of food. At one level are the distribution channels that bring ingredients from the farm to our tables. Unfortunately, it feels like people are only interested in where their food comes from when there is a contamination event and it suddenly becomes very important to know exactly where your cantaloupe came from.  One pet project I’ve been kicking around is to map the assembly of a hamburger, and look at how those patterns shift for various locations around the country.

At another level, the geography of food encompasses the French concept of terroir, or the “taste of place,” which I find equally fascinating. The idea is that unique combinations of temperature and soil chemistry and rainfall and all of the other elements that go into growing or raising food are expressed in the subtle variations of the end product. With oysters, these factors include the depth and temperature of the water, direction of the current, whether the oysters are raised entirely at depth, or if they spend a time in shallows. Resource constraints didn’t allow me to explore that with the oyster maps, (ultimately, the maps weren’t supposed to stand alone anyway as the servers at the Oyster Bar will use the maps to discuss growing conditions and how it affects the variety with their guests) but it’s something I’d like to incorporate into a future revision of the series.

Even more interviews are on the way as we count down to the official release of the Atlas! To keep up to date, subscribe by email or RSS using the links to the right, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Three Questions: Ben Sheesley, Axis Maps

September 21, 2012

To give you all a chance to learn a little bit more about the brilliant folks whose works fill the Atlas of Design, we’re kicking off a series of three-question interviews with some of our contributors. Ben Sheesley, one of the minds behind Axis Maps, was kind enough to agree to be our first subject. Axis’ typographic map of Washington, D.C., is the first map featured in the Atlas, and you can see a preview below.

Atlas of Design: “Axis Maps” — isn’t that kind of a sinister company name?

Ben Sheesley: Yeah, but we always try to use our powers for good, not evil. The name really just comes from the mathematical and geometrical use of that word, as in ‘the earth revolves on its axis.’ We’ve always been more interested in cool maps than world dominance.

Click to preview pages 4-7

AoD: Myriad Pro — defend your typeface choice!

Ben: Narrow and condensed fonts are great for typographic maps because they allow us to squeeze more letters on a line (or in an area). This makes for a nice, dense overall look and feel, but perhaps more importantly makes it easier to read all those short streets with really long names. Myriad Pro is a huge family with a number of condensed and semi-condensed variants. I’ve also always appreciated its friendly yet professional personality.

AoD: When are you guys going to make some shaded relief maps with type?

Ben: I’ve toyed with the idea of a typographic shaded relief map but so far have been focused mainly on streets. Mapping colored numbers like this has some real possibilities, I think. At one point, I wondered if a hachuring-type of representation would be another approach, with heavier, denser labeling in the steeper areas. There’s probably other ways to think about it, too. I’d love to see someone make an attempt!

More interviews are on the way as we count down to the official release of the Atlas! To keep up to date, subscribe by email or RSS using the links to the right, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Choosing the Finalists

September 18, 2012

So, a few weeks ago we announced the final selections for the Atlas of Design. Twenty-seven great examples of some of the world’s great cartography. Today we want to talk about how those selections were made.

Press Check on Monday Morning

September 11, 2012

We couldn’t take too many photographs, but here’s a shot of one of the color proofs we received last week, side-by-side with the less-glossy press proof of the same section.

A Physical Object

September 6, 2012

So, what is this thing going to look like?



September 4, 2012

Just received the proofs from the press this afternoon!