Maps are seen by most people as practical, dry objects that are mostly useful for motorists, ramblers and travelers. Looking at the contours of the land, streets and waterways can tell the observer a lot about the area of the land. However, artist Ed Fairburn views maps differently. To him, the same contours, streets and visions of a map show visions of a person. He has found the beauty hidden in the atlas and changed the normal, dry maps into stunning portraits.
In the series of portraits he has created, Fairburn displays the awe-inspiring results of his visions. He uses a wide range of canvasses such as star charts, street maps, railroad blueprints and geological maps. He uses subtractive and additive techniques to create a portrait on a map that appears perfectly blended with the topography of rivers, streets and mountains. His method and approach to making map portraits keep on evolving and developing as time goes by. One of his most notable methods to create map portraits is to carefully trace the contours of a map with a pen to create rows of lines of varying widths which form individual shadows and figures. The final result is so integrated with the map that it is extremely hard to imagine one thing without the other.
Fairburn uses ink or pencil to make map portraits that beautifully incorporates the lines of the map. As a result, the face and map exist together in harmony. Through Fairburn’s illustration, the map is still easily readable, leaving it to the viewer’s minds to choose whether to focus on the map or the portrait.
Some Stunning Map Portraits
Penciled on a contour map of Peak District.
Penciled on a geographical map of Colorado and is the first of a series of works on display at the Mike Wright Gallery in Denver, Colorado, USA.
A small portrait inked on a street map of Bristol, UK.
Penciled on contour maps of Wales to be used as an EP cover for Yr Ods, a Welsh band.
Inked on a contour map of Innsbruck, Germany.