Drawing North America by Hand
In February 2019, I put the finishing touches on a map that took four and a half years to complete. What began as a passion project ended up taking over my life, as I became utterly submerged in a cartographic odyssey: North America: Portrait of a Continent. Drawn entirely with colour pencil and fine-liner pen, this 1500 × 1200 mm (59 × 47 inch) map contains tens of thousands of items of content, from the Arctic to Central America, even the deepest reaches of the ocean. 600 individualised cityscapes populate the map, and the content varies widely. All range of animals, plants, culture, history, industry, symbology, and more are laid out across a flowing terrain. It pulls from a vast sweep of the physical and cultural geography of the continent, and is intended to encourage geographic enthusiasm in a broad audience. Inspired by several years I spent travelling the continent, I’m finally able to reflect on it now it is complete. As prints begin to roll out, there is much to discuss about the origins, technical execution, intents and experiences of drawing North America by hand.