The History Of Pictorial Maps


Modern maps are created for navigation purposes. They provide people with information on how to get from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible. On the other hand, illustrated maps or pictorial maps offer people with a more colourful and artistic form of cartography. Map illustrators eschew geography to create something that will have a long-lasting impression.

If you will look at the maps used for tourism in the 20th century, most of them were colourful pictorial maps. Most of the maps provided information in a pictorial way. Humour was used to advertise commercial products. They showcase the beauty of the environment instead of its layout.

According to Stephen Hornsby, author of Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps and a professor of geography at the University of Maine, pictorial maps started during the medieval times. When society became more scientifically enlightened, the pictorial maps lost their popularity. The importance of pictorial maps was revived in the 20th century in the United States.

There were hundreds of map illustrators in the US who were producing pictorial maps. From the 1920’s onwards, pop culture was dominating the world and sparked the growth of pictorial mapping. Soon after, pictorial maps were being used from advertising, to the birth of Hollywood and the emergence of pop music.

No other country was producing pictorial maps. However, in the early 1930’s, Walt Disney started to produce pictorial maps that were not exactly childlike but conveyed emotions and memories. A great variety of pictorial maps were created for different reasons.

This style of cartography was very significant but it soon faded from view because of changing times. The first generation of map illustrators passed away and photography became a better option for advertisers. There were paper maps and afterward, digital maps that offered a more practical use.

Illustrated maps are not gone for good; there are still map illustrators like Rabinky Art that is creating custom illustrations for advertising campaigns, books, and greeting cards. Brands can harness the unique and colourful illustrated maps to generate brand awareness. A creative pictorial map can be used in a greeting card to enhance its design.

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