Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Illustrators and Visual Storytellers Map the World

“Cartography can be an incredible form of escapism, as maps act as proxies for experiences.”

“Could it have been the drawing of maps that boosted our ancestors beyond the critical threshold which the other apes just failed to cross?,” Richard Dawkins famously speculated. Maps have undoubtedly changed the world as both objects of art and tools of political power. They help us understand time and make sense of the universe. At their most beautiful, they reflect a level of stunning subjectivity.

In A Map of the World According to Illustrators and Storytellers (public library), the fine folks of Gestalten — who have a knack for pictorial magic and visual storytelling — collect more than 500 maps by artists, illustrators, and designers representing the creative zeitgeist of modern cartography around the world, ranging from the astoundingly accurate and detailed to the marvelously abstract and utopian.

Antonis Antoniou writes in the preface:

Only few graphic representation devices have been such a fountainhead of wonderment, controversy, and utility as maps have. What seems to have begun on a more intuitive level has evolved over time into a sophisticated visual instrument. Maps have proven to be a versatile medium through which to express our inquisitive nature and make sense of our physical world. Within a singular visual, we are able to impose order by appropriating reality and its complex layers. It is an endeavor that emanates an intoxicating sense of power in harnessing knowledge.


Maps make compelling promises. … They grasp greater concepts, detect patterns, prognosticate, and reveal new layers of meaning. … Cartography can be an incredible form of escapism, as maps act as proxies for experiences, real or fabricated. Whatever their purpose or subject matter, even the most rudimentary of maps have an inherent beauty, an attraction in their way of ordering things.

Vesa Sammalisto
João Lauro Fonte
Boots Adventures in London (Converse)
Martin Haake
Cruising Around Africa
Vic Lee
Vesa Sammalisto
Hartwall Lapin Kulta
Masako Kubo
Green Map
Masako Kubo
Kyushu Train All Stars
Mike Lemanski
Mediterranean Summer (Monocle, 2011)
Harriet Lyall
3.2 Miles / 9 Bridges
Famille Summerbelle
London cut-paper map
Vesa Sammalisto
Island of Manhattan
LA Film Map

Complement A Map of the World According to Illustrators and Storytellers with these favorite masterpieces of creative cartography.

Images courtesy Gestalten

Published March 7, 2013




Filed Under

View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support Brain Pickings by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated