I’m not going to write a post about maps.

The topic is too big, and there’s so much great material out there already that there’s no need for me to add anything that isn’t more carefully researched and considered than this! If you are interested in (relatively) current discussions and interesting ideas in the world of maps and mapping you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy of this book, or Peter Hall’s essay on visualization in the “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition catalogue.

It was browsing through this beautiful book however, that I came across the work of Paula Scher– who I’d been hitherto completely ignorant of.


Paula Scher paints maps.


Paris, 2007

That is to say she makes amazing, colour-saturated paintings that are at least part map – they are too sensual, too irregular, too wilfully representational to be truly map-like.

Nonetheless they are instantly familiar to us, both from the graphical language of political maps (coloured states, boundary lines, textual hierarchy), the design language of transport maps (bold, simplified lines and dots) and the ubiquity of the satellite’s-eye view we encounter on our PC’s, mobile phones and in our cars.


NYC Transit, 2007

They straddle a space between the authoritarian, didactic tone of the cartographic map that is designed to show the world as fact, and the hand-made, ornately annotated maps drawn from memory that we make for one another (and for ourselves) that show the world as imagined, as experienced and as filtered by human concerns.


Tsunami, 2006

For all that, they are also huge and imposing things that I imagine you can get lost in for hours- shown to scale below.


lovely, lovely things.

Gallery image sourced from Flickr user litherland, all other images sourced from Paula Scher’s site