Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

General Discussion

Showing Original Post only (View all)


(44,397 posts)
Fri Jan 6, 2012, 05:02 PM Jan 2012

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See Made by one guy in Oregon [View all]

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See
Made by one guy in Oregon.

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, Ore.


According to independent cartographers I spoke with, the big mapmaking corporations of the world employ type-positioning software, placing their map labels (names of cities, rivers, etc.) according to an algorithm. For example, preferred placement for city labels is generally to the upper right of the dot that indicates location. But if this spot is already occupied—by the label for a river, say, or by a state boundary line—the city label might be shifted over a few millimeters. Sometimes a town might get deleted entirely in favor of a highway shield or a time zone marker. The result is a rough draft of label placement, still in need of human refinement. Post-computer editing decisions are frequently outsourced—sometimes to India, where teams of cheap workers will hunt for obvious errors and messy label overlaps. The overall goal is often a quick and dirty turnaround, with cost and speed trumping excellence and elegance.

By contrast, 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. It’s the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.


19 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
I would buy that map if I knew where to buy it. Major Hogwash Jan 2012 #1
You can order it from the mapmaker here: pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #2
Thanks. Liberal_in_LA Jan 2012 #4
And it is not expensive! csziggy Jan 2012 #8
Wow, that was fast. Major Hogwash Jan 2012 #10
I had just looked it up to order for myself, lol pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #11
Going now to go order it... NightTemplar Jan 2012 #16
same last name but this guy is smart and contributing something of value! Liberal_in_LA Jan 2012 #3
In the comments of course. TheMadMonk Jan 2012 #6
How gorgeous...congrats to him! CaliforniaPeggy Jan 2012 #5
Very nice. k&r n/t Laelth Jan 2012 #7
"Prohibitively expensive to outsource"? Fool Count Jan 2012 #9
At LAST! US Americans need MORE MAPS! bvar22 Jan 2012 #12
The better to find places like the Iraq, such as pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #15
K&R pamela Jan 2012 #13
Wow. BumRushDaShow Jan 2012 #14
ME LOVE MAPS!!! ME WANT!!! Odin2005 Jan 2012 #17
k & r surrealAmerican Jan 2012 #18
If any of you wants to try your hand at cartography nadinbrzezinski Jan 2012 #19
Latest Discussions»General Discussion»The Greatest Paper Map of...