Posts Tagged ‘wall maps

12 Teaches Cartography to Local Elementary School Students

By Eric Wilder, Cartographer,

Monte Vista Science Night Sign

It's Science Night

Last week marked an exciting time for, as it was the culmination of the critically acclaimed Monte Vista Elementary School Science Night.

For many K-6 graders in Santa Barbara, Science Night is one of the most anticipated days of the year; Monte Vista Elementary School hosts dozens of local scientists from a wide variety of disciplines who enthusiastically share their profession with young minds of tomorrow. The evening gives students the opportunity to touch a human brain, hold a python, experience static electricity, and as of 2012, learn about MAPS!!!

As a past student of Monte Vista who vividly remembers the thrills of Science Night, I was ecstatic to see things come full circle and return 15 years later as a cartographer. Teamed up with my partner in crime, Maps 101Customer Account Specialist, Terry (also a proud Monte Vista graduate!), we prepared a presentation that we hoped would engage students and get them interested in maps.

Feeling on top of the world

Global Appeal

Despite the fact that the cartography exhibit was placed right next to the reptile exhibit – tough competition to say the least – it is safe to say that the kiddos were enthralled to learn about maps. Crowded around the big maps we brought with us, Monte Vista students were quickly able to spot their school’s location on a map, identify ways that the Santa Barbara area has changed in the past century using our Santa Barbara Antique Wall Map, find their California mission on our Maps 101 missions map, and discover the uses of imagery in mapmaking. You would be shocked to learn how many first, second, and third grade students have used Google Maps before!!

Kids show cartographer how to read a map

No, THIS is longitude, Mr.

Seeing that I once had a cartographer visit my classroom in fifth grade, we at understand the value of introducing the science of cartography to our society’s next generation of geographers. After a very fun evening complete with prize giveaways and contests, it is without doubt that the future looks bright for the cartographers of tomorrow!


art that takes you places

Matthew Cusick’s art has a hidden side. Get close up and you will see that he has created these wonderful collages from recycled maps.

Using topography, street lines, shading and borders he creates meticulously detailed works that make stunning viewing. The subject matter varies, from horses, to waves and freeway interchanges. A graduate of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art, Matthew resides in Dallas, TX. His work has shown across the world including numerous exhibition in his birthplace, New York City.

He gave this interview to Alice’s Blog at My Modern Met in March of 2011.

What got you into creating portraits and landscapes with maps?
About nine years ago, frustrated with paint and brushes, I just started experimenting with some maps I had laying around the studio. I found that maps have all the properties of a brushstroke: nuance, density, line, movement, and color. Their palette is deliberate and symbolic, acting as a cognitive mechanism to help us internalize the external. And furthermore, since each map fragment is an index of a specific place and time, I could combine fragments from different maps and construct geographical timelines within my paintings.

Maps provided so much potential, so many layers. I put away my brushes and decided to see where the maps would take me. I think collage is a medium perfectly suited to the complexities of our time. It speaks to a society that is over-saturated with disparate visual information. It attempts to put order to the clutter and to make something permanent from the waste of the temporary. A collage is also a time capsule; it preserves the ephemera of the past. It reconstitutes things that have been discarded. A collage must rely on a kind of alchemy; it must combine ordinary elements into something extraordinary.

How long does one piece take?
It is hard to say exactly. I never keep track of the hours. I’ll work on a piece for two or three weeks and then put it aside and start a new one. To really understand what is going on in one piece I need to be working on another. I’ll usually have at least two or three in rotation. I just finished a sixteen-foot wave commission that I’ve been working on for a year. Normally, a four-by-six foot piece takes about three months to complete. The smaller ones can take three to six weeks. The portraits are the most difficult, no matter what size. Sometimes I scrape off all the maps and start over again, and some subjects I work and re-work for years.

How much paint do you use on top of the maps?
I never paint on the maps. I let the maps be themselves and they establish the palette for me. Sometimes there will be an underpainting that is revealed when I scrape off maps that aren’t working. These areas are never planned though, just happy accidents. I do often paint the sky of a composition a single flat color.

If I need to manipulate the values of the maps in order to achieve richer darks, I use ink, mostly walnut ink that I make myself. This way I am not really adding a new medium to the map, only increasing one that is already there—the ink.

What’s your creative process like? What dictates who or what you’ll create next?
I am always thinking about new creations. Usually my best ideas come to me as I’m working on something else or just keeping busy in the studio. Whenever they come I jot them down in a notebook. Then, when I am ready to start something new I look through these notebooks. There are deadlines, and commissions, and sometimes these can lead to your best work as well, but my creative process is very unpredictable. I typically don’t commit myself to anything but the few pieces that have made it from my notebook to hanging in my studio as works in progress. The next pieces are determined by the outcome of the ones that proceeded them.

How has the internet helped you with your career?
My work has traveled very little outside of the United States. The internet has enabled people from all over the world to see my work. Yet they are still only seeing the digital reproductions. Even so, it is a wonderful thing to know that the work is being seen and admired globally.

Many Rivers



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It’s a map, Map World

At long last, geographers, cartographers, travelers and businesses can finally explore the world as it was meant to be – using ‘Map World’,  the Chinese government‘s answer to Google Maps.

Map World from the People's Republic of China

Map World

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping unveiled the program which will give internet users a unique insight into global geography in and around Beijing and more that 200 other Chinese cities. Users can zoom in to street view on the  capital  in all of its glory, however views of the rest of the world are more limited to the extent that once zooming is attempted above 500m  the screen turns white.

Controversially, the program includes the province of southern Tibet within China’s borders. This is the area also known as  Arunachal Pradesh, one of two territories in dispute with India. The other is Aksai Chin, a region of Kashmir, which Map World incorporates into the Xinjiang province. The bureau has  chosen to protect sensitive areas such as military bases which can be clearly seen on the Google version – a sensitive issue after revelations such as one in 2008  that a newly constructed  Chinese Navy ballistic missile submarine could be seen in commercially available satellite photographs.

Map World does allow access to detailed maps of Chinese provinces including road and rail maps, with pushpin and distance features similar to Google (in so far as I can read the e-book instruction manualsimplified Han according to my browser).  There are also links to a number of other publications by the Bureau including a special atlas – “to reflect China’s reform and opening up 30 years of glorious history and brilliant achievements” published in conjunction with hundreds of government agencies, and following some of the worst flooding China has seen in decades, a disaster map (crashed at time of writing)  featuring detailed statistics and information on regional disasters.

Map World - Regional View

Map World - Regional View

The launch follows a move in May by the Chinese government to require all online mapping providers to obtain a license. In order to obtain such a license they are required to maintain servers in mainland China. Google has not yet applied for such a license – its most local servers are in Hong Kong – and the maps could share the fate of its other blocked services such as Youtube and Picasa. China’s number 1 video site is the locally hosted Youku (special treat in that link), which has benefited significantly from government regulation.

China has taken significant steps to make a product available to its people that will rival currently available offerings and almost inevitably replace them. Whether that is replacement by force or by choice remains to be seen.

Give Map World a try here (after brushing up on your Chinese)

10 brings home the gongs! was the proud recipient of three prestigious awards last night, held by the International Map Trade Association.

Garage Sale Locator Apps for iPhone, and the Bing Maps101 Explorer took silver and gold respectively in the ‘Best Use of Technology’ category at the industry’s premier event. In addition, a special award was presented to CEO Sarah Sinclair in recognition of the company’s continued support to the industry and promotion of the Association.

Garage Sale app for Iphone became an active participant in the map trade almost 20 years ago and now sells into dozens of countries worldwide. A renowned supporter of independent cartography through its ‘Map Marketplace’ program, the company’s online map store plays host to millions of visitors monthly who can purchase materials from the biggest publishers such as National Geographic to specialist map makers through its print on demand service. has continued to innovate and provides mapping solutions to the Education and Newspaper industries. In addition to retail maps,’s custom mapping division provides a range of services, including print, flash and ‘mash-ups’ with online services such as Google and Bing maps. Directory publishers, Convention and Visitor Bureaus and Educational Publishers use for their location based solutions.

“This award recognizes the hard work of so many  employees in our organization for whom mapping and geography is as much a passion as it is a daily job,” revealed Sarah Sinclair, President and CEO. “We are proud to support and promote this passion not only within but across the industry as a whole,” she continued.

Following a recently announced partnership with Bing Maps and several new iPhone apps released, the team hope to be back next year with even more innovations on display.

BIng Maps101 Explorer

The IMTA conference closes today (September 14th) in Washington DC.


Mapping Solutions the way YOU want them…’s Custom Mapping Division offers really cool mapping solutions to a variety of businesses – from publishers to destination marketers, hotels to home improvement stores.

We have almost 20 years of history behind us and a wealth of Cartographic talent.

Our philosophy involves finding practical solutions that please our customers and keep us in business, fueled by our enthusiasm for all things mapping.

Print maps, online maps, interactive maps, mobile maps. Pretty much anything that includes a direction.

In this blog we intend to profile some of the projects that we have completed, as well as some that we didn’t even start. We hope to let our readers know who we are and why we do what we do, and we would love to hear their opinions in return.

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