"Any city-dweller knows that most neighborhoods don’t have clear boundaries. Yet on maps, neighborhoods are almost always drawn as perfectly bounded areas with sharp edges—homogeneous zones of ethnicity or class."

Asheville Redefines Transit

Matt Forrest & Kate Chanba

"Bringing this local identity into the map without sacrificing its navigational functionality was our biggest challenge, but an important one: as simple as fonts and colors are, they can speak volumes about a city."

Atlas of Florida’s Natural Heritage: Biodiversity, Landscapes, Stewardship, and Opportunities

Tanya M. A. Buckingham & Lou Cross

"The spreads in this section depart from the detailed, scientific presentation used elsewhere in the atlas, and evoke instead a field notebook style, wherein the maps appear to be produced by a hand-drawn, loose, pen/ink, and/or watercolor medium."

D-Day Normandy

David Deis

"Over the years I have developed a map aesthetic for the magazine that features soft, muted raster backgrounds upon which more important thematic vector data and textual information are positioned."


Tiberiu Chelcea

"The goal of the works in this series is to combine the visual languages of electronic design and maps. To do so, I took advantage of a characteristic found in both printed circuit boards (PCBs) and maps: they are both layered representations of places or objects."

Empire of Torentine: A Political Map

Brian E. Stoll

"Being a rather impressionable teen, I didn’t end up following my dreams of becoming a cartographer or an urban planner. So I guess you could say this map of the Torentine Empire is my first 'grown-up' map, and a way to fill that void."

figures INFRASTRUCTURES: At Atlas of Roads and Railways

Bieke Cattoor & Bruno De Meulder

"The aura of precision and comprehensiveness emanating from the familiar Michelin road map, which gives confidence to the traveler, is abandoned. In the space of the book, stories are densely stacked, and the Cartesian projection moves over for multiple compositions."

Here Now!: Social Media and the Psychological City

Sarah Williams & Juan Francisco Saldarriaga

"The black canvas upon which the contour lines are drawn creates a digital feeling, while also creating a contrast that makes the data the most important element on the map."

Hora Mundial

Eduardo Asta & Vincenzo Scarpellini

"An Erik Nitsche poster for General Dynamics inspired us, too. It featured a Goode Homolosine world map with two airplanes crossing it in orthogonal directions, just above Brazil. … It was beautiful, unusual, rich, and very modern—and it had the meridians we needed."

Japan's Swirling Seas

Virginia Mason

"Many maps focus on terrestrial features, so this was an opportunity to work on a design that features water and pushes terrestrial features into negative space. Reversing to black what might traditionally be white negative space makes the bright colors pop to the foreground."

Locals and Tourists

Eric Fischer

"The Locals and Tourists maps are the second part of a series that visualizes aspects of a city’s structure as they are revealed by the locations and sequence of geotagged photos taken within it and posted to Flickr and Picasa."

Malborough Sounds, New Zealand

Roger Smith

"I particularly liked the inherent dichotomy of painting a visually harmonious and peaceful-looking picture that contrasted so starkly with the scenes of violence, mayhem, and lawlessness described in many of the accompanying storyboards. You see only the nice; you have to go look for the nasty."

map = yes

Aaron Straup Cope

"map=yes is a love song to comic book artists, in particular Dave McKean, who authored and illustrated the graphic novel Cages in the 1990s."

Northern Arizona

Jean-Louis Rheault

"The art form of pictorial mapping is a centuries-old tradition that visualizes what cannot actually be shown by any vantage point, and it took me many years to break the deeply ingrained modern habit of constant scale."

Oyster Appellations of the Pacific Northwest, Sheet 2 of 4: Northern Puget Sound

Adam Wilbert

"In part, this map is a reaction to how cold and precise maps in our digital world have become. In my mind, the warmth of decaying old paper and rusting iron ink restores a bit of romance to the journey through a map."

Panoramic Map of Mount Washington

Alex Tait, Judith Nielsen & Martin Gamache

"The three-dimensional panoramic view is a crucial component of this map. It invites the reader to enter the scene in a more visceral way, and perhaps feel some of the icy chill that caused so many of the deaths."

Picturing Urban Decay

Derek Watkins

"Subdued refinement can quickly become stark minimalism, however, so I also included some details to give the map more visual substance, such as subtle drop shadows, shaded relief, and bathymetry layers."

"This series of six maps of Portland, Oregon, juxtaposes two dramatically different scales: human hands, and the city’s urban form. They are inspired by a tradition of using the human body as a metaphor for the city that includes the writings of Vitruvius and da Vinci, and, more recently, the 1947 Copenhagen finger plan."

Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Residential Patterns

Larry Orman, Alexandra Barnish & Diana Pancholi

"The result visually removes areas of the city dominated by daytime, working traffic and defines residential neighborhoods where people actually live. The map shapes a more realistic population profile and is a block-by-block representation of San Francisco’s racial and ethnic diversity."

Seafloor Map of Hawaiʻi

Tom Patterson

"Light penetrates ocean water to a depth of 200 meters and perpetual darkness cloaks what lies beyond. How, then, should the seafloor appear on a map when we can only imagine what it looks like?"

Tea Horse Road

Martin Gamache, Marguerite B. Hunsiker, Fernando G. Baptista, Mike Reagan, Elaine Bradley, Elbie Bentley

"We employed standard techniques for historical map re-creation such as scanning stained, creased, and aged paper for use as a map background. We also filtered rasterized linework and added noise to reproduce the look and feel of a historic map."

"Handwriting is deeply personal, and putting it on the map gives the reader a more direct, human connection with the historical figure attached to it. We do not merely see Washington’s name; we see a little bit of his personality right there, tracing out the course of the broad avenue named for him."

Toronto Metropolitan Region: The Big Picture

Chris Brackley

"Add to this the birds-eye view perspective, where escarpments and moraines emerge and fall away, and where the land tapers towards the horizon, and this map truly achieves its ultimate aspiration, to be a visualization."

Two Nations, Over the Air

Timothy R. Wallace

"In New England, it’s a summer tradition to hit the road with the car radio tuned to a Red Sox game. As the broadcast slowly crackles out of range, fans scan the airwaves to find another station carrying the game, and another—until suddenly, the Sox are off the dial and the only game on the air is something else entirely: the Yankees playing ball."

U.S. Numbered Highways as a Subway Map

Cameron Booth

"I personally regard the Tube map as one of the greatest works of informational design ever, and one that has stood the test of time from the 1930s through to the modern day. Modeling my work on its aesthetics…was an easy choice."

Washington, D.C.

Ben Sheesley, David Heyman, Andy Woodruff, Mark Harrower

"Typography itself is also an art form, both in terms of the construction of letters and their arrangement on the page. Our maps are a combination of typographic art and reference map, in contrast to their more abstract peers in the world of typographic map art."

Willamette River

Daniel E. Coe

"I had recently discovered and found inspiration in Mississippi River maps from the 1944 Army Corps of Engineers study, the Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, by Harold N. Fisk. These maps, I thought, stood alone as beautifully abstract works of art, yet they contained an immense body of scientific detail at the same time."