Cartography is iterations of infographics. Sometimes es ist schwer to distinguish between the two.
I am sure you will find the niche you are looking for. I wish I could point you to it!
great to have found such a big and well-visited forum with so many active members!
I'm a student of Geoinformatics in Germany and have been thinking about possible occupations after my studies.
I have found that cartography is probably the most interesting subject where I would like to be working in the future.
However, I'm much more interested in the cartography of human-based factors and geoobjects (objects created by man), rather than the whole eco-environmental, geological and land-survey stuff.
That means I'm not really into geoprocessing of satellite imagery (spectral analysis etc.) for some federal environmentalist purpose or so, or creating those federal mass product maps for general public under some federal institution that generally produces just a new version of the same standardized map every year, with detailed prescription on how it is to be produced, leaving practically no special choices for the mapmaker...
No, I'm into producing SPECIAL maps, not just the ones you find in every standard atlas, but the ones that display very high levels of my own individual styling choice, from the choice of color, texture, choice of map elements, symbols, arrangements of the elements, line styles, visual aestetics and so on.
One of my recent ideas is creating historic antique maps of the geopolitical and economic situation during the era of the British Empire. You will find dozens of really beautiful antique maps if you just google "antique maps", only that those ones are just scans of hand-drawn maps from the olden days.
Now, I'm not against the style of the maps from the olden days, to the contrary, I so much love them, but how about displaying historical data available TODAY from those times in an antique map style? You know, the kind of maps those people would have loved to draw if they had had all that data back then, but couldn't? That would surely be an enjoyable experience, as opposed to those spartanic and dry history-book maps we have today.
Well, unfortunately the HIS-GIS team in the U.K. isn't looking for such a thing at the moment according to my recent inquiry and the answer I got. And I have found it hard to find some team that is really dedicated to that stuff. And without some really significant data-providing basis (history institutions etc.), such an undertaking is pretty useless :-(
But this idea of mine was just to demonstrate an example of how the artistic element of mapmaking could be really getting a focus in such a profession.
So what I'm asking here is basically:
Who of you is professionally employed in the mapmaking business with a lot of free artistic choices in the course of the production in his maps, and also, with focus mainly on civil cartography (displaying of mainly anthropogenous factors rather than just mapping the natural environment)? Or is this more-or-less a freelance-occupation to go in addition to some "real" employment? Where exactly can I expect being employed and enjoying such a high level of creativity in mapmaking? Or is it better not to hope for such professional freedom for a living?
Thanks in advance,
Professionals working with maps, we have a few here.
HandsomeRob, who doesn't visit all that often - several times a year I suppose, works for a US company who does maps for many US companies including National Geographic (I believe), if you find his maps, they look very much like something out of National Geographic.
Go to the Finished Maps Forum, he's got lots more of this style.
We've got another more recent pro who is from Greenland and is working as a geographer for an Australian mapping company - can't think of his name though...! A new member from earlier this year.
Plus a few GIS people as members too, a few civil engineers and architects too.
The rest of us "pros" are just hack artists getting commissions for various small RPG publishers or are into self publishing - Turgenev, Torstan, myself and quite a few others.
I see mapping as a dying industry, however. The GIS industry is getting smaller, not growing. More and more such activity is done by computers. Still there are great examples of mapping as art in the world, even outside the Guild.
I wish you luck in your pursuit of a career in infographics. As Toff said, I don't know where I could point you to find what you're looking for.
Hello, I am new here and this is my first post. Right now I am involved in a team that creates GIS for public transportation systems in a major city.
But I want to make maps. I totally understand Marvin, and I want to do the same thing as he describes in his posts.
I hope we can find a job (or maybe build our own company?) that will allow us to do the maps we want to do. Please give me a heads up if anything comes up?
Thank you so much.
But...computers are great for crunching data. Computers are bad at simplifying data and portraying information. Computers are to blame for the number of bad presentations in existence, as they simplify the "how" so much people cease to focus on the what.
I think there will always a market for individuals who can take all that GIS data and turn it into clear information (a la Tufte). This, I think is the key role for people interested in the field.
My tutorials: Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional Map ~ All My Tutorials
My GIMP Scripts: Rotating Brush ~ Gradient from Image ~ Mosaic Tile Helper ~ Random Density Map ~ Subterranean Map Prettier ~ Tapered Stroke Path ~ Random Rotate Floating Layer ~ Batch Image to Pattern ~ Better Seamless Tiles ~ Tile Shuffle ~ Scale Pattern ~ Grid of Guides ~ Fractalize path ~ Label Points
My Maps: Finished Maps ~ Challenge Entries ~ My Portfolio: www.cartocopia.com
Thanks, I have just come across a lot of new things within the last few hours...this world is so full of opportunities :-D
As for mapping, I would agree if you are talking about standardized serialized products such as national maps issued by federal institutions. But for the private sector? Space is such an unlimited dimension, you can look at what is known to us about the universe down to each building or park in it, the possibilities of what can be mapped is limitless and impossible to exhaust. The only question is the question of interest, especially interest on the demand side.
And as I have now found out, there seems to be plenty of interest, as evidenced by such a great number of mapping companies. I discovered the very important keyword that everyone here interested should write down with double underline: CUSTOM CARTOGRAPHY. Really found a lot of distinguished, choice-driven, creative, individual portfolios of various companies, so it's just about finding the right one, one that has an interest in extending their client space by those clients who could profit from your personal cartographic style, preferences and affectations.
During my study of it I have discovered that full satisfaction and self-fulfilment comes with the creation of aestetical graphical end products ONLY. Period. There's nothing that really compensates for that. Except maybe creating a symphony, but that's totally different story :-D But that's just me. I'm really trying to avoid ending up being just a producer or maintainer of abstract data or abstract systems. What I need is graphical production. But with a link to something useful at the same time, so design choices can be made rationally (some clearly outlined basic principles of how the work is to be done, not requiring the hyper-creativity of a pure artist), and also so I can see useful visually obtained knowledge of this world aquired by myself and other people through my products (as opposed to just having created some beautiful picture with no reference to anything important to us in reality). I think cartography is a very good compromize between doing something useful and creative/artistic at the same time, if you are doing custom cartography.
I'm really glad there's GIS out there, that just needs to know the spatial reference of all the geodata, whatever the data may be about, and will draw each and every line as defined by its vector data representation at its proper place on the map. While at the same time, I still have ALL the options as to how exactly that line or area should look like. There's unlimited possibilities of defining your own symbols in ArcGIS, and if you don't like those, or you can't find any one that matches what you want to see, there's limitless possibilities of creating your own symbols, even draw them with a pencil, scan them and import them into ArcGIS as a symbol, if you like, to tell ArcGIS to, let's say, "visualize every object whose type attribute is tagged <ship> by this self-drawn ship graphic of mine", or "display all the water areas with my water texture, which I have drawn on canvas and scanned to my PC".
You know, no detailed filling every inch and angle with water using complex Photoshop elements at each position that should be water, no, water areas are already defined and ArcGIS can apply specific visualization to all map areas and elements that match that attribute tag automatically, you just need to decide HOW they are supposed to look like, not having to do the same thing a hundred times.
This is a lot of work and time saved, and you still maintain all your choices and possibilities...you maintain full control over the "how", and can command the "where" by simply specifying the target class of objects on your map which are already spatially referenced and automatically drawn at their proper place. This way, by classifying the "where" just once, you can visualize unlimited "where"s of the same type with just one command/step, specifying your personal "how" all along. And that's the great advantage of real mapping GIS versus just using some graphic designer that doesn't know anything about geodata, the spatial reference attached to its data set elements (geoobjects).
I never intended to create my maps in mind with some graphic designer, rather using proper mapping GIS and importing countless of my own symbols into it, which are probably the only thing I would create with photoshop etc. And I don't think that the mapping guys at National Geographic etc. would prefer doing their work any other way.
Mapping GIS is really a benefit and allows you to save your time for the main thing: Formation of concepts. Concepts of "how do I want it to look like?", "What elements do I need to place where?", "What kind of reaction do I want from my map viewers, what impression should they gain, what elements should I put emphasis on and how should I style them for that purpose"? Creation begins with concept, it IS concept formation of things that do not (yet) exist and therefore still need to be produced. Solving the problem in your head IS solving the problem, it IS the creation. Putting that creation of your mind into the physical world serves as a means of being able to perceive and enjoy the creations of your mind on a sensual level. So let putting your solution/creation into the physical world be the "worries" of a robot or machine as much as possible, the joy you gain, is the same, because the IDEA is yours, YOU have CREATED it!
Last edited by Marvin; 10-23-2009 at 10:26 PM.
Your points are valid, Marvin, however, most of us create maps of places that only exist in our or someone else's imagination. There is no "geodata" for these fictional landscapes that most here generate. The act of old fashioned hand-placed cartography is not only the means to an end, it is the "means" in of itself, creation in its greater aspect that we strive to perform. The hours placing trees, mountains, forests, elevations and labels is a recuperative activity - mapping is a joy.
Many here, would rather not have cartography as a job, it is simply a hobby and a pure artform. Those of us who are paid to create maps do so for the love of it, because often our day jobs provide the income that mapping never will for the majority.
There are some here who create alternative versions of Earth, with differing history, thus different placements of national borders, etc. I for one, have no interest whatsoever, in maps of the real world, even in an altered form. While I appreciate them, I would never spend my time recreating reality. That I find a boring prospect. I would much rather map the impossible and non-existent; playing god and creating our own worlds, that to me is a greater sense of accomplishment.
So GIS real Earth mapping and what most of us create are "apples and oranges". I have no interest in geodata, nor creating "creative" maps based on geodata.
There are no satellites over Middle Earth, Westeros or Kaidan - we use the geodata of our minds.
In the end, we are not complaining. I hope you can find the ideal job that fits your training. I for one am not looking for that job - I've already found it.