Is there anything that cannot be mapped? Think about it…the entire world is our mappable object at every conceivable scale from planetary to the atomic. But yet people still find additional themes, objects and thoughts that give them something to make a map from. Cartography extends from reference mapping through to single theme maps, from national map series to a kid drawing his or her classroom and from a cartography student creating their first web map to a boy scout drawing out their imaginary worlds. It’s this last example that demonstrates that really, the fertile imagination innate in us all is often the start of something rather special in map terms.
As the Crow Flies cARTography drew Ice Cream Island to accompany a children’s novel series about a fantasy island of ice cream. The novel itself was to be encased in covers that made it appear as if an ice cream sandwich (chocolate covers with vanilla pages) . The map was to be printed on the inside of the unfolded cover – the wrapper to the ice cream sandwich. What a fantastic approach! But it’s the map that really takes this fantastical place to another level.
There’s a nod to an antique style with raked coastal vignettes, ornate hand-written letter forms and old school hachuring technique on the slopes. It has an antique burnish to the paper to give it age (and authenticity) and the detail is drawn in a semi-realistic hand-drawn style so we get the feel of swampy areas and forests as well as more geometric depictions of settlement and transportation. The names follow the theme: Messypotamia, Strawberry River Flow, Beaches and Cream and Rocky Road; and there’s even a unique coordinate system comprising longitude and splatitude.There’s even a cherry on top of both the island (which appears to be the inverted cone of the upturned ice cream island) and the north arrow, the slopes mimic a slowly melting sauce and the description both balances the map layout and adds conviction to the story.
This is as well crafted a fantasy map as you’ll find. It’s simplicity helps it not be overly detailed but it resonates because it’s comprised of elements of real maps that we immediately recognise. That helps us immediately understand something of the shape, form and patterns before our eyes. We immediately feel empathy with the place and can easily imagine it to be real.
It’s a well produced map in its own right regardless of the reality or not of the subject matter. If only more ‘real’ maps were this well drafted!
You can see a much larger version of the map (and other similarly styled maps ) on the As the Crow Flies cARTography web site here.