Whether it’s a traditional Thomas Brothers map book or Google Maps Street View, most of us use maps on at least a fairly regular basis. It’s not all that surprising that we take them for granted, but fortunately there are plenty of artists out there to remind us just how beautiful the art of cartography can be. Here are 11 great artworks made with road maps.
In many ways, the blood and nervous system seem to serve as road maps for the human body. Additionally, when it comes to emotional bonds, we are connected to those we love in more ways than we realize. Artist Nikki Rosato brings new light to these concepts with her creations made from hand-cut road maps.
With a few cutting devices, a bunch of road maps and a tiny bit of paint, Matthew Cusick is able to transform navigational tools into stunning portraits and nature scenes. The results remind us just how much beauty is in a standard map and how much we take the true artistry of cartographers for granted.
Aside from having some of the most varied map creations of all the artists featured here, Shannon Rankin has one of the most concise artistic statements regarding her decision to incorporate them into her artwork, explaining, “Maps are the everyday metaphors that speak to the fragile and transitory state of our lives and our surroundings. Rivers shift their course, glaciers melt, volcanoes erupt, boundaries change both physically and politically. The only true constant is change.”
If you have ever admired the unique shapes created when natural barriers like rivers, mountains and bays intersect with the otherwise grid-like layout of city streets, then you’ll love the art of Karen O’Leary. The artist uses maps of famous locales around the world and white paper to cut out, or occasionally to mark out, everything but the weaving lines of city streets. For example, that’s a cutout of New Orleans above and a marked-out take on London below.
If home is where the heart is and you wear your heart on your sleeve, then it only makes sense to wear your home around town. Okay, so technically you probably couldn’t actually wear these folded creations by Elisabeth Lecourt, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive, especially when you consider how few people can actually fold a road map back up into its original shape.
Lecourt isn’t the only artist to envision maps as clothing. In fact, Susan Stockwell’s many gorgeous 3D paper dress designs look as though they could be thrown on and worn about town .
Plenty of people enjoy marking the places they’ve visited on maps, but if you prefer having something a little artistic to commemorate your travels, then you might want to place a custom order with Etsy user TerrorDome who turns maps into gorgeous 3D butterflies captured in a shadowbox.
If you can’t help but think of Italy as a boot ready to kick Sicily, then you’ll probably love the work of Ingrid Dabringer, who turns the shapes of cities and countries into cartoonish images of people with nothing more than a little acrylic paint and a lot of imagination.
Know any other cool works of art made from maps? If so, feel free to share in the comments.