Forget Google Earth!
For some visceral inspiration, check out the work of Paula Scher.
Her hand-rendered maps blend sardonic commentary, maticulously reserached data, and more than a touch of Rev. Howard Finster madness. These 5' x 7' canvases have it all: meaning, abstraction, information, all compressed in a highly satuarated atlas.
In the early 1990s, renowned graphic designer Paula Scher began painting small, opinionated maps--colorful depictions of continents and regions, covered from top to bottom by a scrawl of words. Within a few years, the maps grew larger and more elaborate. "I began painting these things sort of in a silly way," Scher, a partner at the Pentagram design firm, said in a recent conversation. "And I think at one point I realized they would be amazing big. And I wondered if I could even do it. If I could actually paint these things on such a grand scale, what would happen?"
See Hillman Curtis' brief but beautiful video on Scher and her work from the 70s and 80s. In it, her face glows as she describes her love of appliqued letter forms, distressed textures and typography that serves as animated illustration.
In any field, to keep working in fresh ways after 30 years requires the ability to continually solve problems in creative ways. For Scher that means “the power of ideas have to drive the work.” Styles come and go; technologies are constantly changing, but “there’s no other way to stay alive in this profession without being able to think.”
Three decades after designing her first record covers at CBS, Scher still gets excited about the future. “My favorite job is the one I’m going to do tomorrow,” she says.
from Z+ Partners Blog:
Although perhaps better known for her graphically designed "retro-look" album covers and corporate logos, Paula Scher is also the painter behind a collection of the world's most disorienting navigation aids. Her maps chart an emotional terrain of swirling nation-states, swooning islands and claustrophobic oceans, providing a beautiful impressionistic view of globalization.
Paula Scher's bio
In the 1970s and early '80s Scher's eclectic, period-oriented typography for records and books became widely influential and imitated. She has often been credited as the major proponent of "retro" design. However, her body of work is broader and more idea-based than this suggests. She uses historical design to make visual analogies, and for its emotional impact and immediate appeal to contemporary audiences.
Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a wide range of clients including The New York Times Magazine, the American Museum of Natural History, the Asia Society, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Phillips-Van Heusen, Anne Klein, Citigroup, 3Com, Herman Miller, Metropolis and the New York Botanical Garden. In 1996, Scher's highly influential identity for the Public Theater won the coveted Beacon Award for integrated corporate design strategy.