Putting the Cartography in Art, Quotes to Work By


Enough of this clever little wordplay of “putting the art in cartography!” Let’s go the other way round. In many cases “cartography” or “map” can be substituted for “art” or other art-related words like “painting” or “photograph” in oft-quoted inspirational text. Here are a few instances:


“Art is not what you see but what you make others see” ~Degas
Always consider the audience. Do you mainly want them to enjoy the aesthetics of the map? Do you want them to discover for themselves certain thruths (that you yourself may not have even considered) by presenting complex data in a well-organized map? Do you want to hit them with a single noteworthy point? The answers to questions like these steer the mapmaker in the right direction.


“Every artist was first an amateur” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
And, I might add, we all remain amateurs in some realms of cartography. There is no possible way to become an expert at design, programming, every GIS, web, and design software product on the market, analysis, and the subject matter(s) that you’re mapping. You must try for solid achievement in one or more areas and continued learning in the others.


“A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires” ~Hedy Lamarr
If the maps that you or your department are turning out are not comforting you or inspiring you then it’s time to rework them.


“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them” ~Diane Arbus
What seemingly unsightly realities would people be confronted with if you truly made the public aware of certain things in your data? If you took the time to explore hunches? If you produced some solid eye-opening statistics and explanatory maps to match?


“My imagination can picture no fairer happiness than to continue living for art” ~Clara Schumann



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