Map Deconstruction

17/12/2013 § Leave a comment

Using the questions below we were to analyse selected maps to help us read and understand the graphical choices that were made for their specific design needs. The first map we chose to deconstruct was Central Park and it’s surrounding streets in New York, America (unfortunately we no longer have images of our maps but we intend to find them again to upload as examples).

  1. What do you think you are looking at on this map? – Location wise we are looking at a hand drawn Central Park in New York. There is typed writing identifying the key places and tourist attractions in and surrounding the park.
  2. What is the audience or context for this information? – We believe that this map is targeted at children and their families. Possibly specifically designed for a school trip with children or local information centres (there is also a possibility that children could have designed it). 
  3. What cartographic language is used? – The language used within the map context is very age appropriate, simplistic and clear. Exclamation marks and the colourful key are all child friendly, including small sketches and easy vocabulary.
  4. How is the topographical information represented? – The map is clearly all shown as flat terrain.
  5. What cultural artefacts are present that represent how people live their lives? – To highlight the main areas in which people will congregate the typography is in different colours. For example, in our modern age people visit cafe’s and restaurants religiously and it’s shown well in the map. Hotels are also very important for travellers and tourists so these are bold on the map too.
  6. How could this be of historical importance? – There is no historical importance to these artefacts.
  7. How does this map abstract reality? – This definitely isn’t an accurate representation of Central Park, therefore the places shown are an abstract of reality.
  8. Can you describe the composition and construction (you may need to refer to the originals)? – The map is in a leaflet style making it easier to distribute. The fact that it folds up into quite a compact piece makes it easier on the traveller too.
  9. Legend – symbols – What communication systems are used? – There are multiple colour co-ordinated symbols provided with a simple, easy-to-read key.
  10. Emphasis – What is included and what isn’t – levels of detail? – The levels of detail in this map are quite low. Only places that a child would deem interesting are used e.g. cafe’s, restaurants, hotels and famous attractions.
  11. What scale is used? – The scale used isn’t clear but a key for the distance (1/8th mile = 5 minute walk) This isn’t 100% accurate for the reader.
  12. Can you comment on the direction of the map? 
  13. How is typography specifically used within the design? – Very child like typography is used to compliment the childish sketches. This style isn’t something you would use on a professional map for hikers etc.
  14. What linear qualities are evident throughout? 
  15. What is the colour palette and why may this have been used? – Bold bright colours have been used to attract children in basic shades and tones. Green is the main primary colour as the majority of the map is Central Park. The yellow indicates streets, peach represents buildings and blue is obviously water. It fits the stereotypes of colours well because children will know that green means grass and blue means water. It is definitely hand coloured in what we think is crayons. As a contrast, black and red type has been used for street names and locations so that it stands out well.
  16. Maps are socially constructed what does this map say? 


For the second map, we chose what we first thought was a map of the London Underground. On closer inspection we learnt it was sort of a joke-type copy, making it a little more fun to deconstruct.

  1. What do you think you are looking at on this map? – We think we’re looking at a comical/replica version of the map of the underground system in London. On first thoughts, we thought the names of the locations were stereotypes of the places (e.g. something it’s most famous for), but this isn’t the case.
  2. What is the audience or context for this information? – We expect this map to be aimed at 16 – 30 year olds and those with an interest in art supplies as it’s from a paper company.
  3. What cartographic language is used? – A lot of vocabulary on the map is quite inappropriate for public viewing and isn’t intended for children e.g STD’s and wife beater aren’t something I would want my children to read!
  4. How is the topographical information represented? – This map doesn’t show any topographical information as it’s just lines, there is no indication of land at all.
  5. What cultural artefacts are present that represent how people live their lives? – There isn’t really any artefacts to suggest how our culture live their lives.
  6. How could this be of historical importance? – Vocabulary wise, there is nothing to make note of for future historical use. However, it is a great and accurate representation of the current London underground system.
  7. How does this map abstract reality? – The actual map is real but the the places names are not.
  8. Can you describe the composition and construction (you may need to refer to the originals)? – This map is A3 and printed as an example of paper weight for customers.
  9. Legend – symbols – what communication systems are used? – The standard key symbols have been used that you would see on other maps, e.g. railway stations, airports and transport points.
  10. Emphasis – what is included and what isn’t – levels of detail? – Everything is pointed out well as it would be on an original copy of the underground. It’s also clear that quite a lot of attention has been paid to the place names for whatever reason the designer had.
  11. What scale is used? – There is no scale stated but obviously the underground is huge.
  12. Can you comment on the direction of the map? – The direction of the map is definitely humorous. They’re trying to draw your attention in so that you keep their product and remember their company in the future.
  13. How is typography specifically used within the design? – The type in this map is basic and easy to read in a Sans Serif font.
  14. What linear qualities are evident throughout? 
  15. What is the colour palette and why may this have been used? – The colour palette co-ordinates well with the current underground map so that people will be familiar and able to read it well.
  16. Maps are socially constructed what does this map say? – We think that this map appeals to a wide range of people but especially those with a comical personality.

Paper Type

05/11/2013 § Leave a comment

In Rob and Margot’s lecture this week we just discussed assessments coming up. We did however, finish with a little fun activity. We were all handed A3 paper and were told to screw it up and unfold it. Once we had done this, we were to do the same again, and again… and again! After we unfolded it each time we could see that it was getting smaller and smaller and this was because the fibres were breaking and taking a different form. This allowed us to mould our paper into different shapes. The first image above is of my letter E. You can see the shape quite well and it was easy to manipulate the paper as it was now basically like play doh!

The second image above is the result of a different screwed piece of paper in a straight way and then folded and manipulated in the opposite direction. This almost made my paper take a 3-dimensional form – like a pop-up tent! Overall, a pretty cool task!

Hatching Typography

21/10/2013 § Leave a comment

Today Rob introduced us to the term ‘hatching‘ and in turn, showed us this video by Erik Van Blokland (typographer). Hatching is basically scribbling but in the formation of shapes that we know as the alphabet. Take a look at Van Blokland in action below to get a better understanding of the term:

We were then given half an hour to have a go on our own at hatching some letters. It was a little daunting at first, my first thought was “this is going to be hard“. To keep control of your pen whilst scribbling in the form of letters sounded difficult. However, once I started I actually found it therapeutic and relaxing. It was easy enough to get a basic letter shape and more control helped make them into something actually usable! I will definitely keep this up as it’s fun as well as helping me develop my typography design.

My first go at drafting!

My first go at hatching!

Digital Colour Stripe

13/10/2013 § Leave a comment

Digital Colour Stripe

Digital Colour Stripe

As well as the hand cut colour stripe we’re working on, we also had to try out a digital copy too. I chose this image as it has a wide range of colours from neutral to vibrant pink and I really love old vintage posters!

Colour Picking

09/10/2013 § Leave a comment

Margot had us select an image and pick out as many different colours and shades as possible. I think I picked one of the most plain looking images possible (not on purpose!) and at first glance it looks pretty simple with only a few colours. However, once I started picking out the colours and seeing the image closely, I realised there was a lot more than I thought.

The New Yorker

I haven’t finished with my colour picking yet, there are a lot more shades of yellow and green to pick out. The blue and coral are amongst the sky and the falling leaves which you can’t see very well until you look closely. She initially showed us one that designer Leigh Cooke created and that helped a lot with layout and widths etc. I’m going to do a digital copy of a different image as it should technically be a lot easier to pick out all of the varying shades.

Leigh Cooke


My Colour Challenge Results

08/10/2013 § Leave a comment

After our lecture Wednesday afternoon with Margot, I went home and had to take the Online Colour Challenge! Now, being a creative student I did have high hopes that I would do fairly decent as I spend my whole time with colours.. pens, paint, Photoshop etc and i’m forever re-decorating at home! However, I do have bad vision and wear glasses so I did wonder if that would affect my results.

The Beginning!

After I did my sorting.

On first appearances, it looked quite obvious where colours should be but once I started, the colours all started to look the same! Looking at this image now, 20 minutes after i’ve finished, I can see some colours in the wrong places!

My results.

My results.

I got 11! I am super happy with that result as the best score is 0 and obviously the higher the score (up to 100 I believe) the worse your colour sight is. Yay!

William Eggleston’s ‘Memphis’

08/10/2013 § Leave a comment

In the 1970s colour photography was still fairly expensive so there was still a lot of black and white images around. William Eggleston was an extremely popular photographer, especially in 1976 based on his super-saturated photos of every day objects. He caused quite a lot of controversy at his exhibition ‘Memphis’, as people questioned why random objects were classed as art. He had that big of an impact that Instagram‘s ‘Memphis‘ theme is based entirely on his style.

(images from: Laboite Verte & Eggleston Trust)

Of course now his work is very cool and ultra modern – it’s just what we’re used to, but back in the 70s not everybody understood. I found a very interesting video documentary by the BBC on YouTube that highlights Eggleston as a personality and as a colourful artist.

He is now 73 and having received a Sony World Photography Award, his work is now a permanent exhibition in the Tate Modern gallery. I also found an excellent question and answer published by The Independent that I think highlights his breezy approach to his ‘snapshot’ style photographs and he has a humorous, or just truthful, approach to his answers.

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