As far as I can tell, this is the first map I collected. Drawn 10 years before I founded the Hand Drawn Map Association, it provides directions to three places in Chicago: the music venues Lounge Ax (now closed) and Empty Bottle, as well as the BFA graduation exhibition for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sadly, I can not remember who drew this map. Whoever it was, they were a SAIC student living in the loft on Wabash Avenue where we stayed. If it was you, please let me know!
George drew this map while attending Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India for a year of study in 1969.
The fictional archipelago of Montablan originated years earlier in his imagination while mowing the yard of his childhood home in Iowa. Driven by his contempt of cutting grass, he fantasized himself as one of a group of exploited workers on the island of Lospania who were planning a revolt.
As he grew older, the island remained in his imagination, expanding into a small archipelago of closely allied islands. The place names are influenced by aspects of Indian culture as well as his love of American football. The references in the map to places such as Talortown and Talorado, for example, are a misspelling of Jim Taylor, a fullback for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1962.
Larry and his family received this map while visiting distant relatives in southern Italy. After a visit in Barrea, Larry’s hosts drew the driving route to Sorrento, 187 km to the south on the Gulf of Naples.
Purple Wyrm mapped a home that frequently occurs in their dreams. While much of the home and the space surrounding it remain a mystery, the hatstand near the front door and the dark windows on the veranda are consistent signifiers.
This map depicts the location of the Large Hadron Collider built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) beneath the France/Switzerland border. Kersting drew it at a pub in St. Paul, Minnesota over a discussion with friends at a local pub. A few days before the particle collider was set to be used for the first time, the group discussed the scientific experiments that would be conducted there. The references to “Cam” indicates the location of their mutual friend who lived in Switzerland at the time.
This anonymous frustration map originated in boredom. The creator drew it while waiting thirty minutes for their boss to arrive at a disciplinary meeting. They continue, “this is the third meeting I’ve been asked to attend for minor offenses. I’m convinced my boss is arranging them for his own amusement. It is completely accurate (except for the pelican) but not exactly to scale.”
In the early days of the HDMA, I accepted files for the website through drop.io, a service later bought by Facebook. Using drop.io was very easy, and, if you chose, anonymous. This means I received many files without identifying information or accompanying email addresses. Ahh…the early internet.
I referred to them as the “lost maps,” and I still have a folder with these random drawings. These are two of the best. The map above was easily identifiable as the Mill Hill district of London, and, with a little extra research, the map below was determined to be Doha, Qatar.
Alec’s map of Barcelona is an example of a truly useful hand-drawn map. Drawn while he was on vacation, it highlights a number of architectural sites and museums. Among the landmarks are several Antoni Gaudi buildings, the Forum 2004, the Gas Natural Building, and the Music Palace.
After not receiving one of the few daily hiking permits to climb Mt. Whitney via the standard Whitney Trail, an experienced hiker suggested Mark Morey and his friends take the lesser-used Mountaineering Route. He sketched this map for them which they used to navigate the nine-mile route in the early 1990’s.
Mark recounts, “over the next two days, we saw no other people except at the summit. We had a lot of route debate [as well as] the most glorious hike and summit of Whitney. On the way up, we found all of the landmarks drawn on the map, however, on our way down, we realized that none of those were the ones he meant us to find.”
Some of the best maps in the HDMA collection relate geographic concepts often drawn to accompany a conversation about a particular place. Those shown here attempt to relate the size and scale of one of the largest countries by total land area, Canada. Jeff Werner drew the map above to explain the size and orientation of the country and the rest of North America to a group of villagers in Bali.
The map below was drawn on a napkin by Peter Flemming for Lars Midboe during a conversation they were having in a bar in Trondheim, Norway. Midboe found the map months later in a bag and scanned it into his computer for safekeeping.