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Best Map of America: A Work of Art

January 7, 2012

The “38th annual Best of Show award” for the map of the USA goes… not to National Geographic, or the CIA, or the U.S. Census Bureau.  Those have been the big winners in the past.  But this time “the Academy Award of mapmaking” goes to an individual.

The best American map is created by somebody who compares cartography to moviemaking, to novel writing, to making music and works of art.  That somebody is David Imus.  He says,

I see the world as this great big tapestry of different rivers and roads and landmarks and valleys and deserts that are really a fabulous work of art. We’ve got this thing called geography that is just as rich and complex and rewarding as music and movies, and we don’t pay any attention to that. So I’m trying to change that….

Back in the old days, making maps by hand was an elaborate tracing process. I approach it the same way [but use a computer….  You ask how long — 5,000 hours. It’s like writing a novel.

Imus tells more in an interview with Mihir Zaveri, for The Oregonian.

Here’s an image of the Best of Show winning map:


Here’s a visual contrast – “Left: Imus map of Chicago. Right: National Geographic map of Chicago”:

See and read more in Seth Stevenson’s essay, “The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See: Made by one guy in Oregon” for Slate.

Here’s how Imus is representing his own work:

And find more of that at imusgeographics.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2012 10:32 am

    I read about this last night and thought it was pretty amazing.

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