Maps as an art form are by no means a new concept. People have long used maps to adorn their walls. They are representative of everything from our dreams of seeing the world to finding our place within it.
From an aesthetic perspective, maps provide a unique set of shapes and design. Their layouts are familiar and comforting. They are grounding and concrete as they have been in existence for thousands of years.
Conceptually, maps represent the idea of both home and exploration. Many enjoy having a map present of places they have lived or visited. Others enjoy seeing maps as a possibility; all the places they may go and all that surrounds us.
In You Are Here, a best seller by author Katharine Harmon, a massive 360 unique and inspired maps were collected from artists. Not all of these maps show the typical terrain, but include places from fictional popular culture as well as maps of concepts like as happiness and anguish. We tend to think of maps in their traditional sense, but the act of mapping everything from emotions to myths opens a door for artists to go above and beyond in their cartography creations.
Unlike these larger conceptions, the simpler maps encountered on a day-to-day basis have the power to become truly iconic in their viewers’ eyes. Ask any Washingtonian about the DC Metro, and the image of those colorful subway routes will pop up like a Polaroid in their minds eye. These maps inevitably become symbols of the places they represent that have great meaning to those who reside there.
Maps give us a sense of direction and security. Just as a road map powers us with the confidence to drive forward, so do maps as an art form by providing us with the inspiration to journey while simultaneously making it feel attainable. Having the world on your wall makes nothing feel too far away.