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About the Atlas

The Atlas of Design is dedicated to showing off some of the world’s most beautiful and intriguing cartographic design. Every two years, we publish a new volume of full-color maps, selected from a worldwide competition and judged by an expert panel. It is more than a museum of images, however; each map is accompanied by a brief commentary, provided by the author and meant to guide readers toward a deeper understanding of the work: how it was inspired, its intended message, or the ways it means to influence us. Everyday objects, even beautiful ones, become much more significant when we see what is behind their creation.

The Atlas aims to inspire readers both within the field of cartography and without toward new understandings of design, and of the power that a well-crafted map can have. In an age when more and more mapping tasks are being turned over to computers, the Atlas provides one more answer to the question: What do cartographers do?

The Atlas is published by the North American Cartographic Information Society, a not-for-profit professional organization for mapmakers. It’s managed by a small, but enthusiastic, group of volunteers.