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FANTASY CITY MAPS

“Fantasy” might be a bit of misnomer for the maps which follow, which I drew between 1993 and 1998. None of these are fantasy maps in the sense of portraying cities that come up in fantasy fiction (such as Game of Thrones' King’s Landing or Middle Earth’s Laketown). Nor are these “fantastical” cities, like Plato’s description of Atlantis, or the cities in Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities.” Instead, these are all more like imitative studies, reflecting, scrambling, recombining and renaming certain geographic qualities and features of real cities. In several cases, it’s really the cartographic qualities of maps of those real cities, rather than qualities of the real cities themselves, which is the object being imitated. For instance, one of the technically stronger maps below is Pseudo-SF (aka Anglesey) – but at the time I drew that project I had never actually visited the city of San Francisco. For visual guidance I had a good AAA map of the Bay Area on hand, as well as Robert Cameron’s book of aerial photography, “Above San Francisco.”

In most cases, I emphasized certain urban features – elaborate expressway intersections, a hierarchy of major and minor streets, a park system, waterfront piers – which tended to come up on 1980s/90s-era commercial paper maps of American downtowns. However, Pseudo-London (about two thirds down) brings in a few more European urban features.

At the very bottom of the page I’ve included a sample commercial map from the Arrow company, and another from the Gousha company. These were the sorts of maps I typically had on hand during the 90s, and their presence helped influence the creation of these fantasy maps.

Pseudo-SF (aka Anglesey). Jacob Shell. 1997.

Pseudo-SF (detail). 1997.

Tescent. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Tescent detail. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Tescent Metro. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Cordale. Jacob Shell. 1998.

Pseudo-Seattle (aka Honcynth). Jacob Shell. 1993.

Leebourne. Jacob Shell. 1994.

Pseudo-Minneapolis. Jacob Shell. 1994.

Pseudo-London. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Pseudo-London detail. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Pseudo-London detail. Jacob Shell. 1997.

Aurac. Jacob Shell. 1995.

Aurac Metro. Jacob Shell. 1995.

Pseudo-Chicago (aka Aurivvian). Jacob Shell. 1995.

Hollacord. Jacob Shell. 1996.

Below, an Arrow map of Newton MA, and a Gousha map of Seattle WA, both from the late 1980s.