Illustrated maps by Maria Rabinky show scenes as they look from above at an oblique angle. Usually, the illustrated map is a manifestation of the enormous vibrancy of popular culture. Many of the illustrated maps are now being used in brochures or posters for advertising and promotions. Others are used by tourism agencies and chambers of commerce to attract visitors and businesses to their area.
According to Stephen Hornsby, professor of geography at the University of Maine, illustrated maps, also called pictorial maps thrived from 1920 to the 60’s in the United States. Many of the pictorial maps are featured in his new book “Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps” to spark interest among people from far-off places including school children.
Some of the pictorial maps are geographically accurate but sometimes geography has to be sacrificed for the sake of simplicity or when the illustrator wishes to make a point. The 1947 Map of the United States as Californian’s See It has compressed the eastern and central parts of the United States. This puts most of the country inside the limits of Los Angeles. A bold yellow arrow is used to connect New York City with the Golden Statue to claim “about 200 delightful easy miles.”
Watching over California is an angelic weatherman and the giant Kissin Sun. Several iconic attractions have been co-opted like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. A thin wavy black arrow that has been labeled “17,000 dangerous miles” points to Florida while a black swamp is filled with skeletons, a man-eating alligator and a shivering Eskimo and a penguin.
This is playfulness that is very evident in pictorial maps. It reflects of the American’s cheerful optimism and pride in their community. Since pictorial maps are usually for fun, they are not suitable for serious topics for studies.
There are artists like Maria Rabinky who have painstakingly created illustrated maps or more known as pictorial maps for people and businesses to appreciate. The colorful and creatively designed maps are now powerful tools for marketing because their visual appeal easily attracts people. The maps can deliver their client’s message through a unique illustration.