Way Finder

As cartographic artist Katherine Baxter’s new show, Map Maker, opens in London, she picks five isometrically inclined peers that have helped guide her to this point in her career.

Ever since I was a child of five I’ve been fascinated by looking at the world from above. I loved model villages and model railways in particular, my favourite place being Bekonscot, a model village created in 1929 near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire – a magical miniature world. There is no doubt that this was the first and most enduring inspiration behind my map-making. After leaving Bath Academy of Art I explored a few avenues of illustration before I focusing entirely on maps. I felt that I had really found my true passion. In a way it fulfills a deep psychological need of knowing where I’m going…I like a beginning and I like a destination. One little boy asked me whether I had ever drawn a map to Heaven; maybe that will be my last map. 

I have been lucky enough to have been commissioned by a number of fantastic clients, including the Times, the Radio Times, Daily Telegraph, to explore and illustrate cities and locations all over the world. Each map and project still gives me a thrill; it’s always a joy to create something new. I illustrate using traditional drawing methods; my trusty Rotring pens are my constant companions, and, although I do use the computer for colouring and creating digital files, my passion still lies in the actual mark making of pen on paper.

The five illustrators I have chosen have inspired me on my journey through creating and map-making. Projection and perspective are a fundamental part of my maps. The process requires not only drawing skills, but also the ability to work with light and shade. That 3D quality is vital to make them come alive and come off the page. 

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Ronald Lampitt

Ronald Lampitt was a prolific illustrator working from the 1940s to the 1970s. I came across his work while reading Ladybird books, a favourite of most children brought up in the Sixties. Later I discovered his illustrations in a different context: he created some of the most beautiful railway posters ever produced. A lot of these posters involved intricate aerial views, lovingly 
painted in watercolour. His use of light and shade still sends a shiver down my spine. 

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Peter Grundy and Tilly Northedge

The information designers Peter Grundy and Tilly Northedge have had a profound influence on the way I create and illustrate maps. This design duo took information design into another dimension with unique ideas and the talent to put those ideas into fun and simple designs. They made a visual language out of statistics and information. I found the way that they approached their projects immensely inspiring and with that influence I started creating maps with a designer’s eye as well as an illustrator’s. Achieving a balance of space and image started to be a major part of my work, and I endeavoured to make the information in the map more clear and concise. 

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Brian Delf

I came across Brian Delf’s work at the beginning of my career whilst doing the occasional small commission for Dorling Kindersley, for whom he was a prolific non-fiction illustrator. His watercolour illustrations were immensely intricate and beautiful.  However, it was the sense of perspective in many of his children’s atlases that influenced me most. He was a master of cutaways and technical illustration. I’m sure that at least one of his books, such as The Picture Atlas of the World, Bible Atlas, In the Beginning or History: the Really Interesting Bits, must have graced the bookshelves of most children’s bedrooms. 

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George Hardie 

Hardie was an incredible talent. His isometric and axonometric perspective drawings have helped me throughout my illustration career. Both his ideas and his execution show the mark of a pure genius. He worked on some of the most famous album covers of the 60s and 70s, such as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here and Led Zeppelin’s Lead Zeppelin.  

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Herman Bollman 

I regard Bollman’s 1963 drawing of New York City is one of the greatest cartographic feats of all time. This axonometric map of NYC was prepared for the 1964 New York World Trade Fair, where it was sold at information and tourist kiosks. When I first saw this, I felt that I had gone to heaven. Although it’s more technical cartography than illustration, the perspective and 'bird’s eye' quality blew me away. This has a profoundly helped me in producing my own illustrations of Manhattan and other American cities. Thank you Herman.

Map Maker 
The Coningsby Gallery, London
7 - 25 July