23 October 2012

For my birthday last year, my father gave me a globe.  I perched it atop my kitchen table and childlike wonder would rush back with just one spin.  I’d find myself twirling it ‘round in search of the tiniest islands, daydreaming up my next jaunt or simply reminding myself where on this green earth Timbuktu is again.

Globes and maps remind us where we’ve been and help us get to where we’re going.  Sometimes more practical, like the most efficient way from point A to point B, or more inspirational like planning your vacation to a distant land.

A friend of mine recently remodeled his office and I wanted to give him a gift to liven up the freshly painted walls but also take his geographical location into a new perspective.  I searched for historic maps, old photos, something reminiscent of “Dear Photograph” but was coming up empty.

Finally, I stumbled across Stamen Design a San Francisco-based design and technology studio that have created these beautiful interactive watercolor maps, based on data from OpenStreetMap, which may sound familiar if you’ve been watching companies like FourSquare + Apple jump the Google maps shark and opting instead for OpenStreetMap (which is sort of like the Wikipedia of mapping.)

I plugged in my friend’s office address here, chose a map style, saved the image, sent it off to print and voila! A personalized geographically accurate piece of art . The Map–>Image utility I used to create the image is part of CityTracking, a two-year project to change the way people view, talk about, utilize digital city services.

Reminiscent of hand drawn maps, the Stamen watercolor maps were inspired by the Bicycle Portraits project (which is now an incredible book and equally as beautiful.)

Think of all the possibilities to remind your sweetie of your first kiss, your first date, maybe your first-born.  A perfect gift to recall a memory based on any location your heart desires.

A few of my favorites places here, and more here.

new york, new york

Singapore print + frame on 20×200.com

the great lakes

Toronto print + frame on 20×200.com

the Philippines

the cuse!

first image: my home sweet home, Bradenton, Florida.
roll the credits: map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.

Let me know if you give it a whirl, try not to take your cursor into the ocean all day like I have been doing.  Those watercolors are just so beautiful!

Categories: Art, gifts

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Jessica Arb Danial Art Advisory