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Lailokken
05-25-2011, 07:34 PM
The word Cartographer is used frequently on this site, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to anyone. I'm curious though, does everyone here consider themselves to be one? Are there inherent skills and knowledge one must possess to claim that title? Are there college degrees one must receive? Is it as simple as being able to take a real or imagined image, and transfer it to paper?

I myself would not use that title, although I do aspire to be able to one day. What do other newbies think? What do all you veterans say? Should the title 'Cartographer' be akin to the awards on the site; something that must be earned?

-Lail

NeonKnight
05-25-2011, 08:12 PM
Well, considering, the word Cartography is a french word meaning to make maps ([French cartographie : carte, map (from Old French, from Latin charta, carta, paper made from papyrus; see card1) + -graphie, writing (from Greek graphi), and a Cartographer is someone who makes maps, then yes, all who are hear are in some way, a Cartographer.

As to skills or knowledge, no, there are no inherent skills one needs to possess. The literal definition of Cartographer is someone who makes maps. No degree necessary. No different than saying someone is a Plumber or Framer, or electrician. (of course with those, the astute reader will notice I did not further specify Licensed or Accredited ;)) And I do mean Framer (a person who frames something, as in construction) as opposed to a Farmer, someone who farms.

Ascension
05-25-2011, 08:40 PM
Having played D&D I've always sort of put everything into levels of competence from novice to master. For our discussion here I'd say there are novices, adepts, map-makers, cartographers, and masters. Novices make mistakes and very simple maps. Adepts make maps that look pretty good but lack something that ties it all together and are usually tied to a certain style or school (tutorial). Map-makers understand the geology and physics behind what shapes our world so they don't have to stick to real-world mapping...they can do fantasy maps with coherence. Cartographers know how to put all of it together in a pleasing way (this includes things like formatting text properly, proper label placement, cartouches, and illustrations). Masters can work in any style and have it be a masterpiece. And if this were like a thieve's guild or mage guild we'd have secret masters who have access to arcane and forbidden knowledge. :) These are the folks that no matter what they do it always turns out golden. Now that's all just my opinion, there actual degrees one can earn from a university but I always told my parents, "I don't need a piece of paper from a university to tell me that I am an artist or not, I need one to be a lawyer or a doctor but not an artist" so that sort of applies to this science/art of making maps.

LonewandererD
05-25-2011, 08:53 PM
Myself, no I'm not a cartographer. When I think cartographer I think more on the lines of atlas style maps or hand-drawn maps like the works of HandsomeRob or Ramah; a lot of my maps I would consider more to be amateur art rather than cartography. As for cartography skills there are some skills that people can have such as being able to draw things accurately to scale but you don't really need skill to make a map, you would need some skill to do an accurate map or a map in very particular style or format but not for map-making in general. I suppose you can get degrees in cartography but they would be more like degrees in Philosophy, useful to have but poeple can still be philosophers or cartographers without them, the degree gives more of a sense professionalism or implied acedemic knowledge, no offense to any academic philosophers/cartographers in the guild. That's just my opinion though.

-D-

eViLe_eAgLe
05-25-2011, 09:41 PM
I think its someone who makes maps about real world countries and locations effectively useful in everyday life.

danjr
05-26-2011, 02:51 AM
I just enjoy to work on maps. I would never consider myself a Cartographer.

In real life I am a contractor, and do a ton of carpentry work, but never got a Trade certification. I say I do carpentry but am not a carpenter. (same goes with all the other trades I practice at)

Hai-Etlik
05-26-2011, 04:11 AM
There are still people who specialise in making maps in particular, but most maps now are created by people who are doing something else that simply results in a map. Much of this 'doing stuff that results in maps' is collectively known as 'Geographic Information Systems' or 'GIS'. The important things are the systems for gathering, storing, processing, and analysing geographic data, and maps are just one of the ways we present the results. Those of us in the GIS field know a bit about making maps, particularly about the technical details relating to geodesy like datums (Yes, in this case it's not 'data'), projections, scales, coordinate systems, etc, and we usually get at least a bit of training in designing maps that are functional and attractive (Part of one course in my case).

A pure cartographer, at least one who needs to be more than just a graphic designer who draws pictures of maps, also needs to understand those technical details about projections, and the specialised design needs of maps, but not GIS things like geodatabase schema design, geostatistics, programming, or remote sensing. Such a pure cartographer would make prettier and more usable maps in general than a GIS analyst, and more precise and technically correct maps than a graphic designer.

tilt
05-26-2011, 06:02 AM
@NeonKnight - so what about those people wanting to frame farms ... well, I gues they are fence makers ... and we won't go into those weirdos who farms frames... they are better left unmentioned ;)
and I agree with the sentiments above, a "true" cartographer understands and creates map with a great understanding both for the art and for the visualisation of the information. IMHO. I prefer just being a fantasy cartographer, more fun as I can make up my own worlds, and I've got a long way to go yet to make my leap from "apprentice" (to my self and the guild masterworks) but every map makes you better and concidering my normal work as a AD/graphic artist/desktopper and my hobby of painting I hope to get there some day, but cartography is a long way of the stuff I usually do.

@Ascension ... shhhhh... don't mention the secret knowledge ;)

Steel General
05-26-2011, 06:29 AM
Nah... I'm just a Photoshop hack who occasionally gets lucky and manages to cobble something together that looks halfway decent. :D

Master TMO
05-26-2011, 11:00 AM
It might be amusing to set up some sort of certification/ranking system, and to move up you have to present a map to a board. Doubtful it would be worth the effort or bureaucracy, but it would be amusing to be able to say 'Certified Cartographer Adept' on my resume. ;)

tilt
05-26-2011, 11:34 AM
It might be amusing to set up some sort of certification/ranking system, and to move up you have to present a map to a board. Doubtful it would be worth the effort or bureaucracy, but it would be amusing to be able to say 'Certified Cartographer Adept' on my resume. ;)

By the powers vested in me by no-one in particular I hereby declare you Certified Cartographer Adept ... without actually certification of course *lol* ... which would make you "Adept Master TMO" ;)

Lailokken
05-26-2011, 02:16 PM
It might be amusing to set up some sort of certification/ranking system, and to move up you have to present a map to a board. Doubtful it would be worth the effort or bureaucracy, but it would be amusing to be able to say 'Certified Cartographer Adept' on my resume. ;)

Aside from actually being able to do what you suggest TMO and add 'Certified Cartographer' to your resume (which would be very cool indeed btw), I was wondering if the certification process could perhaps be used as a mini workshop of some sort, in which novices like myself could learn basic fundamentals and techniques of cartography and advance via quizzes.

I think Ascension mentioned something along the lines of degrees or level of proficiency. Maybe something like that could work.. pass the first quiz and become a novice, and then work your way up through apprentice, mapmaker, etc., until eventually earning your 'Cartographer' badge. And for all you veterans who are already masters, you'd have to set up a different set of guidelines to earn your Savant and Master Cartographer of the Elements & Arcane titles. Any merit to the idea.. or just a silly notion?

tilt
05-26-2011, 02:32 PM
its a good idea... the execution would require some resources, both in setting up the "quests", and evaluating the people taking them.

However it would be possible to make a forum thread where people could submit their map and then have a group of admins vote if the task was qualifying or not. And if X out of Y votes were positive one would gain a rank. Don't know if the system in here supports two titles - but if not, one could use the award system instead.

Diamond
05-26-2011, 02:57 PM
Nah... I'm just a Photoshop hack who occasionally gets lucky and manages to cobble something together that looks halfway decent. :D

That's pretty much how I view myself too; there's no way I'd ever consider myself a 'professional' cartographer.

jtougas
05-26-2011, 03:08 PM
its a good idea... the execution would require some resources, both in setting up the "quests", and evaluating the people taking them.

However it would be possible to make a forum thread where people could submit their map and then have a group of admins vote if the task was qualifying or not. And if X out of Y votes were positive one would gain a rank. Don't know if the system in here supports two titles - but if not, one could use the award system instead.

Thats a pretty neat idea. I think it would add some "guildness" to the guild and give some of us a chance to "walk the tables" as journeymen. :)

Ascension
05-26-2011, 04:10 PM
We currently have a quasi-level system with titles in place - it's the first line under your name. I think it's a combination of total posts, reputation, and badges. Arcana would know more about it since he set it up way back when and then revised it a few years ago. All we'd have to do is change that system if need be and grant CLs some admin rights to dole out titles.

jtougas
05-26-2011, 04:54 PM
We currently have a quasi-level system with titles in place - it's the first line under your name. I think it's a combination of total posts, reputation, and badges. Arcana would know more about it since he set it up way back when and then revised it a few years ago. All we'd have to do is change that system if need be and grant CLs some admin rights to dole out titles.

The current system is great, but for real reward it could be modified. For example I'm a "Guild Expert" mainly because I flap my gums a lot and have a lot of posts, but in NO way do I feel like an "expert" in anything... :)

*EDIT* and of course because I am a dufus..I completley spaced on the fact that I do in fact call my self a "Fantasy Cartographer" on my portfolio site. But "John Tougas Fantasy Almost Cartography" doesn't have as good a ring to it.. :)

Gamerprinter
05-26-2011, 05:16 PM
Well on my websites and in my signatures on various forums I visit, I call myself a "pro fantasy cartographer". When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, I'm a graphic designer and a pro fantasy cartographer.

Now whether I can officially wear that title, based on the cartography industry, I don't really know - nor am I too bothered lacking the credentials to say I'm a cartographer.

I certainly don't do GIS work, nor would I want to - all those real GPS coordinates, way too mathmatically for my tastes, I'm more of an artist. While I want an authentic look to my work, I certainly don't need it to be exacting down to the square inch.

So while I probably don't qualify for the title 'cartographer', I do wear the title when asked and don't feel wrong in saying so.

GP

PS: also, though my 'title' under my forum name states "publisher", I am also a member of the Industry Pros Group. Back before I was assigned 'publisher', I wore the grey of the industry pro. Publisher supercedes industry pro in the site's titling, so that's what I am named here...

tilt
05-27-2011, 02:17 AM
The current system is great, but for real reward it could be modified. For example I'm a "Guild Expert" mainly because I flap my gums a lot and have a lot of posts, but in NO way do I feel like an "expert" in anything... :)

I must agree with Jtougas here, I certainly post a lot, which have pushed me up the ranks, and its nice to see the ranking reflecting the people who actively participates in the community even if they aren't cartographers. So a badge of your cartography merits would be nice. It could be the same badge that changed upon your ranking, so we don't drown in badges ;) ... like military ranks, with chevrons and stars and pips and who knows what *lol* ... maybe old D&D city symbols would be nice - small circle, large circle, circle with dot in it, circle with star ... or something with cartography tools. :)

Ascension
05-27-2011, 04:22 AM
If we went that way I'd like to somehow incorporate all of the various styles one has mastered...like an ISO mountain badge for the ISO style, a hand for hand-drawn, satellite for realism, old globe for antique, a house for cities. Stuff like that.

tilt
05-27-2011, 04:33 AM
*lol*... badge-bonanza ... I thought perhaps that the qualification was only achieved on mastering several styles :)

Lailokken
05-27-2011, 01:24 PM
*lol*... badge-bonanza ... I thought perhaps that the qualification was only achieved on mastering several styles :)

How 'bout something along the lines of a 'Cartographer' coat-of-arms type award then? Just a shield though, instead of the full Achievement. Or maybe use a fancy map case and add emblems to it (like someone mentioned before) as you progress to a new level or master different styles.

Master TMO
05-27-2011, 08:56 PM
I like the idea of giving out ranks or badges based on style, but we'd need to be careful not to have too many styles. 4-6, no more than 10-12 absolutely.

I'm unlikely to ever really branch out much from the realism category, as that's my art style of choice, so having any ranks or badges I earn reflect that and differentiate me from someone with a different style (or styles).

One concept, off the top of my head:
- Have badge ranks be based off a simple point system
- To earn points, the person creates a new WIP thread and builds a map from scratch in there.
- The person nominates the map for 2 ranks: Scale and Type. So my world maps of Batai and Gryphii would qualify for World + Realism. This way people could specialise in Star, World, Continent, Country, Local, City, Dungeon (etc).
- When the map is finished, they post a link to it in a specific forum thread. A board of (say) 12 people semi-monitor the thread. Each of them would give it a yay or nay vote. 6 Yes votes would give the person 1 pt in each of the categories.
- A simple rank structure from there with breakpoints based on points would suffice. 1 pt is a Novice. 4 is a Journeyman, etc.

Like I said, this is just off the top of my head, so I'm sure there are better ways of doing it. I tried to make it simple enough to be usable, but complex enough to be personalized. And the Review Board could have a rotating membership, and all 12 might not even have to be active at the same time, since only 6 yes votes are needed. There are a few weak points though - what are the qualifications for the Yes/No vote by the board? How much better would a map by someone with 12 pts in a style have to be over that by someone with only 2 in order to get the votes?

Some advantages: by needing 6 votes, it naturally makes nepotism or cronyism harder (not that I expect it to be rampant, but it's only natural to view works by friends in a better light, and work by someone you dislike as worse). Also, just needing 6 out of 12 means the Board isn't going to be continuously swamped in maps. If some are busy, they don't have to respond. Odds are there will be enough Board members active to cover for them. Of course, being offline for too long will result in you rotating off the Board so someone else can step in, but this won't be a demotion or anything. You'll be able to rotate in to someone else's spot in a few months.

7thDirection
06-07-2011, 11:29 AM
As a professional "real-world" cartographer, I find this topic really interesting.

I went to college and obtained my Bachelor's of Science in Geography and Environmental Systems with a concentration in Cartography. It's my career. I create navigational charts for mariners. My "maps" are regarded as legal documents in International Courts of Law.

I've studied many different fields to succeed in my career: Geography (Physical and Social), Geology, Geomorphology, Hydrology, Mathematics, Statistical Analysis, Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Cartography, Color Theory, Iconography, Typography, Publishing, Graphic Design, even Meteorology.

So, in a way, I'm a little incensed by those who say that no formal knowledge or training is necessary because of what I do. However, they are right. One doesn't need a lot of knowledge other than the basic computer and software skills and creativity to create maps. The education behind cartography would be a value added asset.

I have to admit, I do envy those of you who have created your own worlds. That seems like a fantastically fun and challenging pursuit. It would be something I would like to do one day (however I fear my family would never see me again).

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7thDirection
06-09-2011, 09:58 AM
No, I don't think you need formal training to make maps. It is purely a creative process when you are building your own worlds. There are no right and wrong answers. However, as a professional cartographer, I feel the title "Cartographer" DOES require an education.

I've earned my Bachelor's of Science in Geography and Environmental Systems with a concentration in Cartography. I'm a cartographer by trade. I don't make beautiful works of art as I've seen on this site, in fact, my maps are rather boring to look at. However boring they are, they are functional, necessary and accuracy is critical.

To succeed in my career, I've had to study: Geography, Geology, Geomorphology, Geodesy, Oceanography, Hydrology, Remote Sensing, Mathematics, Analytical Statistics, Cartography, Graphic Arts, Iconography, Typography and even Meteorology. I believe understanding all of these studies make my job possible.

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Master TMO
06-09-2011, 10:15 AM
A valid point. I would imagine there are several folks here with real-world cartography experience (I did 10 years of GIS for various companies), and real life maps are quite different from the artwork we produce here. Maybe change the title somewhat so as to indicate the difference between the real-world profession and the 'maps as hobbies/entertainment/art' group? We're mostly discussing this as a vanity/amusement issue anyways, to provide a way of marking our achievements among fellow enthusiasts here on this site. We're not trying to market ourselves to companies (well, except maybe the occasional gaming and publishing companies ;) ) based on what we do here.

7thDirection
06-09-2011, 01:07 PM
I would love to dabble in fantasy cartography, however I don't have the necessary software to do so at home. I love my job, but it is restricted to reality only.

Perhaps some day I'll get the software, but I would probably be overwhelmed by the possibilities. :D

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Hai-Etlik
06-09-2011, 01:47 PM
I would love to dabble in fantasy cartography, however I don't have the necessary software to do so at home. I love my job, but it is restricted to reality only.

The necessary software is freely available. I use Inkscape for most of my maps, with support from The GIMP, QuantumGIS, GDAL/OGR, and a few custom programs written in Ruby and Java. Inkscape and/or The GIMP are all you really need.

There's a bit of work to transfer your knowledge from your ESRI and Adobe software, and you may have a bit of cognitive lock in to overcome. But in the long run I see it the same as with programming languages, knowing how to work with different programs makes you better with the underlying theory.

tilt
06-09-2011, 03:23 PM
When we discuss this "title" I definitly think of being a "Fantasy Cartographer", not that I would not be able to make a real-world map I believe any graphic artist could - but it would be through "copying" a map from somewhere else. I once made a map of how to find a great restaurant - the map was just a straight line with 3 points drawn on it, so even though it looked nothing like the real world geography it was indeed simple and conveyed the information needed. So 7th direction, have no worries about your education - I guess people who would hire real world cartograhpers would require a real world exam *lol* .. but throw you legs up - download gimp and/or inkscape and try your hand at fantasy cartography too :)

Gamerprinter
06-09-2011, 03:34 PM
I would love to dabble in fantasy cartography, however I don't have the necessary software to do so at home. I love my job, but it is restricted to reality only.

Perhaps some day I'll get the software, but I would probably be overwhelmed by the possibilities. :D

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I have a friend who is also a GIS mapper with a Bachelor's degree in Cartography and Meteorology. While there is a need for 'design' to best represent a map graphically - GIS mapping and fantasy cartography are 'apples and oranges'. While GIS cartography is a needed skill to accurately represent mathematical and geological datum with many real world applications and uses, while I can appreciate it - it does not interest me whatsoever, and is not a kind of cartography I ever intend to pursue.

That said, I too require an understanding of geology, geography, meteorology, oceanography, hydrology, graphic design, iconography, but WITHOUT the requirement of extreme accuracy, as of course a fictional map is 'fiction'. I only require an understanding of those sciences, but not at the detail nor extent required by a real world cartographer. I don't require an education so much as a skill at 'Google-fu' and the ability to understand what I read online or other sources.

As an aside, I have been approached, yet not have done yet, the idea of creating fairly accurate maps for real world parks and similar projects for use as 'tourist' or promotional depictions for advertising hand-outs and the like using the same techniques I use now (ie: hand-drawn works). I would use an accurate GIS or other respresented map and/or aerial photograph for reference for proper scale, boundries, etc. These would be more like architectural renderings rather than analytically correct maps, however.

In the end, I am an artist, not a mathematician.

In this discussion for the 'Cartographer' title, as far as the Cartographers' Guild is concerned, Cartographer is defined as a Cartographic Artist, and not a true Cartographer.

GP

NeonKnight
06-10-2011, 02:37 PM
Yes, as GP said above. With regards to the Guild, I consider myself a Cartographer, but would never pass myself off as such in the realworld. In the Real World I consider myself an Telecommunications Technologist and and an Network Technichian (having gone to school and receiving my CCNA a year ago), I would not even call myself an Amateur Archeologist (what I went to university for) as I never received my degree and that was 25 years ago. There has been a LOT of discoveries and advancement since then (tho Kurt Von Danagen was still viewed as a flake even then ;))

whtknt
09-21-2011, 05:21 PM
Am I a mapmaker? Yes. Am I a cartographer? Not nearly. Any idiot can expound BS but that doesn't make one a philosopher. The difference, to me, is in the artistry. Any boob with a piece of graph paper can make a map. A cartographer will take that same piece of graph paper and make a work of art.

RobA
09-21-2011, 06:30 PM
Thanks for the threadbump whtknt.
This reminded me of a post I came across a few days ago by Daniel Huffman, a great mapmaker and cartographer. (I first came across his name at boardgamegeek (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/643525/bridging-the-gap-between-cartographers-and-board-g)):

http://somethingaboutmaps.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/on-human-cartography/

From the post:

Among all this discussion of “what is the role of art in cartography,” my proposition is this: cartography is a form of art. Art is not simply a component of cartography, alloyed with a liberal dose of science or technology or hackery. Art is what cartography is made of. It belongs on the same list as sculpture, as poetry, as painting.
http://somethingaboutmaps.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/venn.png?w=573&h=341

-Rob A>

cantab
09-21-2011, 08:11 PM
Not only are art and science not exclusive, I'm not sure there's anything that doesn't involve both.

Anyway, to me the term "Cartographer", alone, implies mapping real locations. (I did some in the course of my studies, most notably my third year project that I posted here.)

As for myself, well I'm not very artistic. For me, the actual map is perhaps less important than the fictional world that is mapped. I probably won't create something visually stunning, but I can hope to make a planet that's scientifically thought-out. (Most of my work is for sci-fi rather than fantasy settings.)

LS-Jebus
09-21-2011, 11:59 PM
Cartography overlaps science and art. Maps are scientific and artistic, though with different focuses. It isn't that maps employ science - like he said, so does pottery. But while pottery employs chemistry it does not aim to represent chemistry. Maps employ science but also represent it. Maps are based on the idea of representing scientific data visually - that data includes surveys, human geography, biology, climate, etc. Fantasy mappers simply imagine such data instead of obtaining real world data. Really, the bubble of art should overlap science, with cartography in purple.

Hugo Solis
09-22-2011, 01:19 AM
Very interesting thread! I'm quite the roockie in here, but I have to agree with Ascencion's post in the first page.

This kinda gets me into the topic of "artist" vs "Illustrator" thou this is not the right place to discuss this :D