Understanding A Place Better Through Map Illustrations


Since the beginning of time, maps were created to serve a purpose. There are different types of maps that were created for navigation or way-finding in a certain country, city or town but no map is more interesting than map illustrations that are developed to make a visitor understand a place better. By looking at a map illustration, a visitor will be able to identify specific landmarks and buildings for fast driving directions.

In the early 20th century, America was slowly conquered and commercialized by airlines, bootleggers, companies and media empires. There was a boom in the creation of illustrated maps as colourful and annotated guides to show new opportunities for travel and commerce. Most of the map illustrations captured the image and culture of America.

Unlike traditional maps, the map illustrations took a viewer to a certain place, region or country. The maps are unlike the topographic maps whose objective is to provide directions and assist with navigation. Aside from containing the message of the map illustrator, the map illustrations often include advertising.

For example, if a particular place in the United States wants to sell tourism, it will show its landscape. The map illustrator’s creative imagination will draw what a viewer expects from the place. Since the economy of the United States was booming in the 1920’s, there was lots of money for advertising. Almost every state has a creative map maker who could churn out illustrated maps very quickly to sell products.

Aside from commercial purposes, the illustrated maps showed differences between states. For example, Miami was always drawn as a sun-drenched paradise compared to an industrial Ohio. Even Walt Disney took advantage of pictorial maps that showed popular cartoon characters in the 1950’s. The artists knew their culture and history and what is exciting for people to see.

Google Maps provide people with a satellite view but map illustrations offer a whole set of fun and excitement. Layers of information are provided by Google Maps but it lacks the sophistication and subtlety of an artist creating a map illustration. Map illustrators have a passion for detail and flair for creativity to make a map interesting to all who view it.

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