Ever been to Solitaria?

Remember the wonderful Fictional World Map Making Competition organized by a Dorset-based creative writing group called Storyslinger I wrote about in one of my previous post? I hope you all map lovers out there decided to participate and submit your creation: that’s exactly what I did and I must say it was a wonderful excuse to let my fantasy run wild and play with my watercolors. After taking into considerations a few ideas here and there, I decided to settle on this image that was grabbing my attention over and over: what if two cultures lived divided by a body of water both developed a religion forbidding any kind of navigation?

That’s how I came out with this map and its short description you can read right below. If you have any comments about both the map and the description I wrote, I would love to read them so please feel free to write what you think!

Brief description of the Region of Solitaria. The region of Solitaria is not a lucky one. If it weren’t for its vast inner sea of freshwater and the thin fertile strip of soil around it, it would be a deserted waste of space surrounded by a dark, venomous myst. Since without the body of freshwater there would be no means of survival, both cultures living on its shores developed a sacred respect towards the sea up to the point that no human is allowed to cross it from shore to shore. That’s how they ended up living at the same time as close and faraway as possible. 

Massimo Potì - map making competition - map


Geo-graphique by Fabrice Clapiès

Geo-graphique is a tumblr from Fabrice Clapiès. I don’t know much about him, in fact I don’t know anything about him except that I stumbled on his blog while browsing the posts in the Maps Community on Google+ (thanks Tony Annechino!). Fabrice has the ability to  create fictional yet plausible places from scratch, not an easy task as who aver tried to draw a map of a fictional place. All his drawings feature a dense grid of highways, back roads,  junctions and neighborhood incredibly lacking that feeling of implausible often ruining fictional maps. Some look like walled medieval cities, others like modernism model cities, others like a patch of countryside on the verge to turn into a city.

 Geo-graphique // Fabrice Clapiès Geo-graphique // Fabrice Clapiès Geo-graphique // Fabrice Clapiès

Distance to Mars

Mapping outer space is no easy task: the sizes of points of interest like planets and moons and distances are so extreme that managing to faithfully mapping both of them at the same time can turn to be a tricky task. I know Mercury is smaller than Earth and that Mars is closer than Jupiter but how much?

Distance to Mars is a nice small website that successfully address this issue, at least for three of our solar system objects. In order to help people understand the real sizes and relative distances between Earth, the Moon and Mars, the website takes you to a visual journey through space from our planet based to the Moon and then to Mars. We start from our planet Earth sitting right at the center of the screen and 100 pixels wide (12.756 km). We move 3000 pixels forward to our first step, the the Moon, than to our last destionation, Mars, waiting for us 428.000 pixels away. Distance to Mars is a project by David Paliwoba and Jess Williams.

Hand-drawn NYC by Jenni Sparks

JenniSparksMaps & Cities, a mutual love for sure. A few days ago I stumbled upon this gogeous hand-drawn map of New York City (thanks again BoingBoing!). The person behind this gem is Jenni Sparks who defines herself as an “illustrator and designer with an un-dying love for hand-drawn type”. From what I understood she designed this wonderful map for Evermade, who also commissioned her a map of London and one of Berlin. What I really enjoy about this map is how gracefully the subway lines are superimposed with the buildings on street level. This is no easy task as usually subway maps have different rules and constraints from street level maps but Jenni managed to do it in a very fresh way without hiding too much of the above ground level and at the same time without getting away from the familiar stylized patters of subways lines.

You can buy a copy of this map right on Evermade’s official page.

Fictional World Map Making Competion

map_NarniaI just discovered something I must share with my few but passionate readers. I was browsing the internet at the end of my day at work , looking for some interesting blog to add to the blogroll and I stumbled upon The Map Room, a beautiful blog about maps, written by Jonathan Crowne, a journalist from Winnipeg, Ontario. The Map room closed on 2011 but Jonathan still writes about maps on his blog and it’s there that I found about this wonderful Fictional World Map Making Competition organized by a Dorset-based creative writing group called Storyslinger. They’re asking writers and artists to draw a map of a fictional world.

Maps must be sent as a jpeg to zomzara(at)googlemail.com with MAP MAKING COMPETITION as the subject. Entry is FREE. This competition is open to all, young or old, artistically brilliant or dysfunctional. Have your maps sent to us by the 21st of May. There’s a facebook event too if you’re into that. The best maps will be shown at North Dorset’s Slade Center and at the Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

I couldn’t ask for more! Have your maps sent by May 21!


[traduzione in italiano in arrivo]

Tutta New York, dalla A alla Z (o quasi)

NewYorkMappa e possesso, da sempre due facce della stessa medaglia: disegnare una mappa è uno dei tanti modi per conoscere un luogo e farlo nostro, se non fisicamente, mentalmente di sicuro. Non a caso i luoghi, reali o immaginari, nei quali si incrociano migliaia di vite, ciascuna con il suo infinito accavallarsi di storie e desideri,  sono sempre stati al centro di tentativi più o meno ambiziosi, e più o meno riusciti, di mappature.

All the Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far è uno di questi tentativi. Si tratta di un libro illustrato di James Gulliver Hancock, un bravissimo grafico australiano che per fare sua la città nella quale si è trasferito, New York, si è imbarcato in un progetto bello e ambizioso: tracciare veloci sketch di tutti i palazzi di New York. Sì, tutti i palazzi, dal primo all’ultimo.

Il progetto è arrivato a 378 schizzi per altrettanti palazzi (sul sito del libro è possibile recuperare l’indirizzo esatto di tutti gli edifici disegnati) tutti racchiusi in un libro che per l’appassionato di mappe non può che rappresentare un nuovo irresistibile oggetto del desiderio al quale è davvero difficile resistere: l’aggancio al reticolo urbano di street e avenue di New York che fa di questo libro una mappa a tutti gli effetti è affidato all’indirizzo fisico dell’edificio ritratto sempre presente al fondo di ogni disegno mentre al tratto  e ai colori dell’illustrazione di Hames Gulliver Hancock è affidata la restituzione di quell’incrociarsi senza sosta di gioia, stanchezza, speranze infrante e appena nate che rendono città come New York così uniche e speciali.

Digital is not current but we think it is

north_america_historical_map_politicalWhat makes a map good? What makes it bad? A map is good when it provides the right information to fulfill one’s needs: a map can be messy and sketchy, but if it gets me where I want to go, then it’s the best map I could wish for. We must first understand what we are looking for, then we will easily discern what’s good and useful and what’s not.

Let’s think about the maps we use everyday: we want them to be as current as possible. The funny thing is that we take it for granted. We don’t know why but we all expect digital maps to be as updated as possible: if a map is digital we all think it is updated. It must be so. That’s why we don’t check when our digital maps have last been updated like we used to do with paper maps even though that’s exactly what we’re mainly looking for. That’s the paradox we all live: we all want currenty but we all take it for granted. And that’s why we discover a digital map is not update only right when we’re using it: not quite useful, isn’t it?