Interactive Map for the Biltmore Estate

Illustrated by Michael Karpovage of mapformation

Recently we teamed up once again with mapformation to create a unique illustrated map of The Biltmore Estate located in Asheville, NC.  This popular tourist attraction was once the home of the Vanderbilts and is the largest private residence in the United States.  We were asked to create 3 maps of the estate to be used on their website: a 2D overview map, and 3D oblique views of two specific areas of the estate.  Michael Karpovage did the 3D illustrations while we did the overall art direction, 2D map, and development of the interactive site.

You can see larger versions of the maps in our portfolio, and visit The Biltmore website to see the final interactive map we built for them.

Cartography Design Annual #2 is Now Available

Showcasing the Art of Map Making

The Cartography Design Annual is a collection of maps from some of the top cartographers in the world capturing the beauty of mapping. Compiled and edited by Nick Springer, the Cartography Design Annual collects a select group of maps published in the calendar year 2008. The maps cover a broad spectrum of cartographic styles: 3D birds-eye views, travel maps, historic-style maps, mountain maps, and many more. The Annual is published by Springer Cartographics LLC, with support from NACIS (the North American Cartographic Information Society). The book, in beautiful full-color with an overview and detail view of each map, is both a showcase for cartographers and a interesting collection for anyone who loves maps.

The first Cartography Design Annual was received with great praise and excitement from the cartographic community and so the series continues with this second edition. With a foreword by Tom Patterson of the U.S. National Park Service in the second edition, the release Cartography Design Annual series is becoming an anticipated event for cartographers.

The book contains 30 maps from cartographers in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Poland. This is book #2 in what will be an annual series.

The editor, Nick Springer is also the founder of, the most popular online community for cartographers worldwide. “The first edition of the Cartography Design Annual was a bit of an experiment, but all of the great feedback I received form cartographers proved that there is a need for this kind of showcase.” said Mr. Springer. “I hope this year’s edition will gain even broader exposure outside the world of cartographers.”

Mr. Springer is the Founder and President of Springer Cartographics LLC in Crosswicks, NJ and has worked for Microsoft Corporation as a Product Designer creating mapping applications and also designs software for GPS navigation systems. He studied Geography and Cartography at Syracuse University.

Free Natural Earth Vector Data

Natural Earth Logo

We are extremely happy about yesterday’s launch of the new Natural Earth data set.  Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales.  The site is now fully available for downloading of all data.

The idea was to create tightly integrated vector and raster data, to make it much easier to make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software.  Started by Nathaniel Kelso of the Washington Post, and Tom Patterson of the U.S. National Park Service Natural Earth is a NACIS and MapGiving co-branded product with assistance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison cartography lab, Florida State University, and others including Springer Cartographics (we designed the logo and did the design and development of the website). (more…)

Map for “Pirate Latitudes” a Novel by Michael Crichton

Pirate-Latitudes-Map-CropIt was a distinct honor to be asked to create the map for Michael Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes.”  The completed manuscript was found after his death in November 2008, and is already in the works to become a major motion picture.  Like all good pirate stories this one takes place in the Caribbean and along the Spanish Main.

A few places on the map are fictional locations, which had to be located based on the manuscript.  Without the assistance of Mr. Crichton it took some time to piece together the travel of the characters to figure out where he intended these fictional places to be located.

You can see a larger image in the portfolio.

Map for “Going Rogue” by Sarah Palin

"Going Rogue" MapLike her politics or not, Sarah Palin has made an indelible mark on the American political landscape.  Part of that landscape was her Alaskan identity.  We were contracted by HarperCollins to create a map showing a polar view illustrating Alaska’s relationship to Russia and Europe in particular.

The book publishing schedule was moved up from the spring of 2010 to November 17th, 2009 so we only had a few days to pull this map together.  We  used a polar equidistant azimuthal map projection centered on the North Pole to show Alaska’s position in the world.

You can see the full map in our portfolio.

Map for “Highest Duty” by Captain Sullenberger

Flight 1549 MapThe story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger safely landing US Air flight 1549 on the Hudson River is probably not news to anyone, but today his first-person account of the ordeal is released as “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters” from HarperCollins Publishers.

We are very excited to have been a part of this book, creating the map of the route of flight 1549.  We used data published by the NTSB from the black box recorder to recreate the route, along with notes from Captain Sullenberger to annotate the events of that day.

The map was created in an oblique 3-dimensional style to help illustrate the flight path and hopeful give a sense of place to this event.

New Web Site Design

newSadly, over the past year or so, our web site had grown a bit stale.  The process of updating content and posting new work was laborious at best and was a drain on the time available for working on map projects.  So we set out to improve the site mainly by making the back end processes simpler and easier.  We had done a number of web implementations for clients using WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) and were very impressed withit’s flexibility and stylability   This new site is using WordPress to manage the entire site, not just the blog portion.  The basis for the portfolio section is an excellent template by Graph Paper Press that we modified to some degree to meet our needs.

Please let us know if you have any problems with the new site.

Submissions open for Annual #2

The submission form for the Cartography Design Annual #2 is now open. Any map published in 2008 is eligible for inclusion. We will be collecting submissions until May 31st, 2009, at which point we will make our selections. You must submit a JPG, GIF, or PNG image of your map with the submission form. The file size is limited to 1MB, but these images will just be used for the selection process. If your map is selected we will contact you to get a high-resolution version.

While this is not technically a competition or an award, we will most likely not have room for all submissions, so maps will be chosen based on their design merits – aesthetic design and clarity of communication. You may submit as many maps as you would like, but each map should be submitted separately.

We hope to have the Cartography Design Annual #2 available for sale in early July. We are looking at new methods for printing and fulfilling the books to improve the quality and process.

We are also planning on offering reprints of maps featured in the Annual with permission form the copyright holders. If you choose to participate in the reprints, you will of course get a share of the proceeds. We will handle the transactions, printing, and fulfillment of the reprints, all you have to do is give us a press-ready file and permission.

If you have any questions you can contact us through

NACIS Meeting 2008/MapGiving

NACIS 2008
Last week I was in Missoula, Montana at the annual NACIS Meeting.  The meeting is one of my favorite events of the year, bringing together so many cartographers in one place.  Every year I look forward to seeing the awesome people that are a part of this organization, and it always feels like “old home week.”

The meeting is a 3 day event, with the first day dedicated to “Practical Cartography Day” which showcased software demos and presentations about the processes of actually creating maps.  For the 2009 meeting in Sacramento, I will be coordinating the PCD session along with Neil Allen of Allan Cartography.  The sessions on days 2 and 3 are papers and presentations with typically a more theoretical approach, with lots of interesting topics.

This year I went a day early to participate in the MapGiving event, a 12-hour map-a-thon where 2 teams produced maps pro-bono for the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I was the captain of the team producing the interactive version of the map, along with Jim Meacham (Univ. or Oregon InfoGraphics Lab), Jeremy White ( and a grad student at the Univ. of Wisconsin), and Nat Case (Hedberg Maps). (more…)