The Golden Age Of Illustrated Maps In The United States

Illustrated maps or otherwise called pictorial maps were hugely prominent in the American culture during the 20th century. Colourful illustrated maps showed the public new opportunities for commerce and travel. Unlike the typical topographic maps that were used for navigation, the pictorial maps contained what the map illustrator wants them to know.

According to the book “Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps” illustrated maps captured the image of America. Early 20th century America was an untapped country that is gradually being dominated by airlines, bootleggers, oil companies, and media empires. There was a boom in the creation of pictorial maps because they were used for advertisements.

Places that were selling tourism commissioned illustrated maps for specific parts of the United States. The illustrated maps showed the landscape, history, and people according to the illustrator’s creative imagination that draws the viewer’s attention.

The US economy was doing great and there was so much money for advertisements. The influence of artists like MacDonald Gill along with the French Art Nouveau dictated the commercial design of the pictorial maps. Almost every state had a map illustrator who could quickly draw the maps and have them printed into hundreds of thousands of copies.

There was great potential for map illustrators to work with because America was enormous. An artist can be inspired by the sun-drenched paradise of Miami or by industrial Ohio. There is also the power of American culture that inspired different imaginaries. Walt Disney advertised Disneyland in 1950 through pictorial maps that showed cartoon characters.

However, the popularity of illustrated maps waned because advertisers had a new option to sell products. Instead of commissioning an artist to draw a colourful map of an area, it can use colourful and inexpensive photographs for a brochure. The pioneers in map illustrations have also reached the end of their career and there was a dearth of artists who are willing to take their place.

There is a wide range of maps that offer people a satellite view of a place but it is different from the illustrated maps created by Rabinky Art that makes the place exciting. Map illustrators can convey a place’s culture, history, and people in an artistic manner.