Map illustrations are experiencing a resurgence recently particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Most tourist destinations have commissioned a custom map illustration for their brochures and handouts to simplify navigation in an artistic and exciting manner.
An extremely rare example of the earliest surviving map illustration of London was discovered and surprisingly, the roads have hardly changed. A fascinating bird’s eye view map of the still underdeveloped capital city was engraved in 1572 by Frans Hogenburg. The city plan revealed a large settlement north of the River Thames and a southern part that was sparsely populated.
The colorful map illustration showed boats weaving their way down the river that can only be crossed through the solitary Old London Bridge. It is easy to recognize some of the landmarks that include the Tower of London, the Charterhouse monastery, the old St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster that was marked as “West Mester.”
The map illustration represented a bygone age with bear baiting shown in Southwark and drawings of Queen Elizabeth figures along the map edges. The Tower of London was depicted with water under its moats. It leads to open grassland where high buildings stand today.
The way that the map captured London is similar to how William Shakespeare described a cosmopolitan city with about 100,000 people with ranks as royalty, nobility, merchants, artisans, laborers, thieves and beggars.
The custom map illustration was commissioned by merchants of the Hanseatic League that have significant commercial interests in England. Dutch, Belgian and German traders have established themselves in the city to take advantage of the budding economy. There were tax and custom concessions on wool and finished cloths to allow them control of the trade.
According to Tom Guest of Atlea Gallery, the bird’s eye view map was the earliest available printed map of London. London was small in 1572 but the large number boats indicated importance.
A business center, campus, town or area will largely benefit from a custom map illustration that has been crafted to a favorable vantage point. The custom graphical presentation can range from the whimsical to realistic to capture an emotional response and instant feeling of recognition from the viewer.