Maps drawn from memory

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 28, 2007

The first time I saw a world map drawn from memory was at Christopher Fahey's apartment. I forget how long it took him to draw, but it was remarkably accurate and fairly large (a few feet across). Ever since then, I've kept an eye out for other hand-drawn maps (you know what they say: if you can't do, collect). Via waxy this morning comes the From Memory Flickr group. My favorites from the group are this map of the male human body and a fanciful drawing of the solar system, both by Ellis Nadler:

solar system from memory

Mapping.com has links to several maps from memory drawn by grade- and middle-school children; this world map by a 7th grade class is not too shabby. I'm struck by how much some of these world maps from memory resemble world maps drawn in the 16th and 17th centuries, like this Dutch map from 1689. All the parts are (mostly) there...it's just that everything is a little wrong-sized and slightly skewed.

Lori Napoleon collects "personal maps" from various people. This tactical guide for nourishing yukio includes directions to the owner's house, outlines of the two different keys (outside door, inside door), and what to feed the cat and when.

Also slightly related is the Fool's World Map, a deliberately addled world map prompted by a question asked of the map-maker by a Texan: "How many hours does it take to go to Japan by car?"

Update: Despite having featured his work on kottke.org late last year, I completely forgot about Stephen Wiltshire's super-realistic drawings from memory. Here's video of Stephen drawing Tokyo from memory and Rome from memory. (thx, matt)

Update: Christopher Fahey uploaded a photo of his world map drawn from memory.