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January 4, 2012

Best map of the U.S. ever created


Wrote Seth Stevenson in Slate, "American mapmaking's most prestigious honor is the 'Best of Show' award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics — which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Oregon."


"David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus — a 35-year veteran of cartography who’s designed every kind of map for every kind of client — did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness."

"Imus has also taken care to ensure that his map is densely packed with useful information yet still easy to read. Every major locale gets a list of key attractions such as universities, museums, and neighborhoods. Every airport gets its three-letter code."

"The longer you look at Imus' map, the more deeply you feel the complexity and the artistry. It comes out of a tradition in which maps were made by hand using hot wax and X-Acto knives. You have no doubt that every tiny decision on Imus' map was made for a reason."

"Other mapmakers I spoke with marveled at the handcrafted beauty of the thing. (One guy reminisced about a Soviet map from the 1970s that used different colors for freshwater and saltwater lakes. He said Imus' map achieves that level of specificity.) This is an example of heartfelt, artisanal cartography coming from a pro at the top of his game."

From $12.95.

[via Richard Kashdan]

January 4, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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kern·ing /ˈkɜrnɪŋ/ noun, the setting of two letters closer together than is usual by removing space between them.

Posted by: antares | Jan 4, 2012 3:49:21 PM

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