Getting Lost with Hand Drawn Maps

Friday, August 20, 2010 - 09:18 AM

I like to collect old road maps, and when the need arises for me to draw a map for a visiting friend or relative, I'll admit I fancy myself a pretty good cartographer. But sometimes I find myself the artist of a bizarrely scaled and oddly detailed map which names all the trees, statues, and potholes in the vicinity but omits important details like street names.

After finding a map just like this in a trash can in Scotland, graphic designer Kris Harzinski became fascinated with finding and preserving maps drawn by hand. So he founded the Hand Drawn Map Association in order to collect the discarded drawings that he says 'accidentally explore the importance of place, ephemera, and documentation' in our daily lives.

His website celebrates these unintentionally beautiful drawings, and gives them props for representing stories from people's lives around the world. There is the young woman who maps the years since she left home to move to New York City. Or the map of the Istanbul Mountains seen from a plane enroute to Scotland. And the touching map of a young woman suffering arthritis who maps the medicinal injections she receives. The maps on the site are as remarkable and poignant as the stories of the people who drew them.

Some of the best maps from the collection have been compiled into a book, out next month. From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association features a wide variety from the collection, including some drawn by well-known historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Ernest Shackleton. While you're waiting for the book to be published, visit HDMA's website - an extremely pleasant place to get lost for a few hours.


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Comments [2]


I love drawing maps for tourists. I think its a hidden skill of mine.

Aug. 20 2010 08:13 PM
Dennis Noson


I thought I was more or less alone in thinking hand-made maps were objects of power & beauty. My work desk is surroundeded by them: Thoreau's map of Cape Cod (from the Concord Library web site), my own map locating 232 or so Trillium, at bloom time, in a local Seattle park, and a beautiful ink map of the Concord area published by the Sierra Club years ago.

Thanks for the link & I'm looking forward to ordering From Here to There.

(Nothing like a radio show promoting graphic arts!)

Regards, Dennis

Aug. 20 2010 07:32 PM

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