Terrestria Picture

Medium: Ink (Copic Multiliners 0.1, 0.05), watercolour, coffee
Size: A2

Finally done! This work was a commission for a friend, whose only direction was "your version of a world map". Initially I was planning a more abstract painting or drawing. But I really love ancient and medieval maps, the way they were so impossibly detailed and whimsical, often with huge sections of the world remaining mysteriously uncharted.

I did a lot of research, looking at what must have been hundreds of examples, all wildly different. I actually went to an exhibition of some of the world's greatest maps and was truly inspired there. What fascinated me most were the bizarre mythological creatures conveniently slotted into the unexplored waters, as well as the sometimes absurd surrounding detail and the "almost but not quite" shapes of the countries. They were generally pretty eccentric – much more interesting than our boring contemporary maps.

So I took all that away, and started thinking about mine. Because I could never just do a straightforward map, I decided to contextualize mine within a kind of hypothetical alternate history. I invented a language that seems to sit somewhere between Tolkien, Shaun Tan and astrological symbols. Unfortunately I don't have the skill to translate it. The idea was that this map was produced by an ancient extraterrestrial race with esoteric knowledge of the planets and stars. Perhaps they arrived on Earth travelling between dimensions, mapped what they saw and then left before they were able to finish.

I spent approximately 4 hours a day for a month on this map. I certainly didn't take the easy road and so it owned my life. But I'm really happy with how it turned out
Continue Reading: Planets