Pretty Maps


New York


Aaron Straup Cope has made a brilliant series of city depictions, simply named, "Pretty Maps."  If I had any connection to Paris at all, that first map would be hanging in our house, it's so gorgeous. The warm translucent colors of these give me the feeling that they could be images from some kind of infra-red thermal camera of the city's life, where the heat from the ever active culture translates into shades of pinks and corals and golds. The aqua roads are an outlier for that metaphor, but they sure are good looking!

Here's what he has to say about the project:

I'd like to generate map tiles that give you that same dizzy feeling you get when you look down at a city at night, from an airplane. We've spent so long fussing over the relentless details in cartography that we've sort of forgotten what things (should) look like at a distance.

This August 2010 version of prettymaps is code-named "Isola" after the Finnish textile designer Maija Isola. At a time when the tools for making custom maps and bespoke cartographies are becoming easier and more accessible it is nice to look back at her work and imagine the maps she might have made if she were alive today.

You can find very affordable prints of this work at 20x200