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It’s our new favorite tradition: Releasing our calendar on #PostGISDay

The 2022 GeoHipster Calendar cover, featuring an image of the Lena Delta by Inge van Daelen.
Behold the cover of our 2022 calendar!

Well, let us be the first (?) to wish you all a happy #PostGISDay today, by delivering on our promises and bringing you our absolute favorite day of the year! That’s right: once again, in addition to raising a glass to your favorite open source spatial database extension, you can celebrate by ordering yourself a brand-spanking-new map calendar for next year. (Or order one, two, or three as gifts! Who doesn’t need some video background improvements these days?)

The calendar is now available for order and features maps from:

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be tweeting out teasers of the maps that were picked over @geohipster – but if you really want to experience these maps in their full glory, you’re going to want to buy a copy of your own, for the low price of just USD 15.99! (And allow yourself at least 10-12 business days for print and ship.) In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this peek at the map that graces our back cover. Now what are you waiting for?

A map of chlorophyll concentration in September 2020, using the Spilhaus projection.
Long live the Spilhaus projection!

Call for Maps: 2023 GeoHipster Calendar

Could your map be featured in the 2023 GeoHipster Calendar?

Fall weather (in the northern hemisphere). Back to school. Pumpkin spice lattes. Spooky movies and Halloween candy. What other traditions can you count on happening each September?

You guessed it! We’re pleased to announce that there will be a 2023 GeoHipster Calendar, and we’re opining up the call for maps today. Mike and Randy will be tag-teaming the administration duties this year, our pal Bill Dollins will once again serve as chief judge, and we have frequent contributor Natasha Pirani serving as a guest judge.

We want to continue our tradition of revealing the calendar by PostGIS Day in November, so get your maps in soon (the deadline is October 21). All the details are available on the 2023 calendar page. Happy Mapping!

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Carl Churchill, Back Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am a cartographer working for Woodwell Climate Research Center. I came to GIS from a very humanities-focused background, with a history degree and even brief training as an archeologist. I have dabbled in a lot of things over my brief professional career – including a few gigs as a stand-up comedian. Currently I handle maps for our scientific presentations, communications releases, and projects with 3rd party clients. I also continue to do freelance work, where I enjoy helping organizations and individuals tell their own stories with a bit of a design leg-up from my end.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I was deep in the #30daymapchallenge and running low on ideas (as it happens), and was browsing random datasets. The Spilhaus projection had just been released for ArcGIS Pro, and I knew I wanted something that could showcase it. Spilhaus is best used to showcase the connectivity of the world’s oceans. I stumbled on a dataset showing chlorophyll concentrations. A few things drew my eye here – first it was sufficiently high resolution enough I knew global features would be easily identifiable in it, it was complex enough to be visually interesting without turning into noise, and it was obviously a relevant dataset to oceans.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: Normally, when you are trying to take a raster from Pro and drop it into Blender, you want to convert it to a 16bit image and do some calculation to max out the range of pixel values to avoid terracing. However, here the values in the raster were so complex, and the final image was not going to show anything necessarily ‘realistic’ (unlike terrain where terracing creates an obvious difference with what you would expect), I merely projected it into Spilhaus, cranked the dpi, and exported it as a .tif like any ordinary image. I set that up as my displacement layer in Blender, converted the raster in Pro to a colored gradient with a scheme I liked, and then layered the two. I also exported a layer of grey ocean areas which I rendered without displacement, and then in Photoshop I combined everything with masking. After that, the map was done with some minimal labeling and creating a legend.

Daniel Rotsztain to Geohipster: “The pandemic made us all urban geographers”

Daniel Rotsztain is the Urban Geographer, an artist, writer and cartographer whose work examines our relationship to the places we inhabit. The author and illustrator of All the Libraries Toronto and A Colourful History Toronto, Daniel’s work has also been featured in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and a regular column on CBC Radio’s Here and Now. As a frequent patron of libraries, malls, and strip malls throughout the Greater Toronto Area, Daniel’s projects seek to understand and support the diverse settings of the city’s public life through walking tours, residencies, and landscape interventions. He is a project manager at ERA Architects and is the co-lead of plazaPOPS, a community-lead approach to transforming strip mall parking lots into comfortable, safe, and accessible gathering places in Toronto’s inner suburbs.

Daniel was interviewed for Geohipster by Natasha Pirani

Q. Hi Daniel, please tell us about yourself as The Urban Geographer, an artist, writer, and cartographer, and, I daresay…geohipster?

Thank you for welcoming me into the geohipster fold. I come by my designation as a geographer naturally – my sense of space and place is so deeply embedded it’s instinctual. Wherever I am, I am creating an internal map and maintaining orientation. And it has been a lifelong sixth sense. I recall being 4 or 5 years old, in the back seat of my parents’ mini-van on some roadtrip through the midwest. My parents were hopelessly lost, but I knew exactly where we were and kept trying to chime in to offer directions. But they wouldn’t listen to me, even though I was right, understandably because I was 5!

Q. I appreciated hearing you mention in a talk that your “expertise depends on admitting when you don’t know something”. What do you mean by that?

I’m tired of the cult of the expert. No one knows everything – it’s just not possible – and admitting you don’t welcomes others to contribute their perspectives and insights, toward a greater understanding and truth. It also is more productive to admit you don’t know something than to pretend you do. I liken it to welcoming failure. Failing – and not knowing – is taboo, for some reason, but it shouldn’t be. You learn from failing as you learn from asking questions when you don’t know something. My expertise depends more on my curiosity than if I pretend to know everything.

Q. You’ve expressed that art is a way to communicate the world emotionally to scale, and that maps can be windows into emotional geographies. How does this perspective guide your mapmaking and use of art and cartography for city-building and civic engagement campaigns?

The way we experience the world is hardly objective, and you can use logic and argument to manipulate facts to prove any point. Through my art, mapmaking, and campaigns, I often intentionally and explicitly exaggerate, emphasize, and distort to make a point, because that’s the power of art. I often say, “I’m an artist, not a scientist”, because art gives you greater latitude to go outside of “objectivity” to explore things in a way we actually experience them. I often think of Michel Gondry’s film “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy”, where he describes seeing the full moon versus taking a photo of it. The full moon is never as big in your photo as it seems when you look at it hovering huge in the night sky. When we look at the moon, it is meaningful to us, and we exaggerate its objective scale. The same goes for maps. “All maps lie” as the saying goes, since the cartographer has to select and simplify in order to make a map effective and communicable. A 1:1 scale map would make no sense, it would be an abstraction, and so distortion becomes necessary for communication. I apply the same logic to my city-building and civic engagement campaigns.

Q. I recently came across this quote in a MapLab interview: “both maps and novels are partial, in that they rely on readers to fill in details. You can’t have a map that describes everything or a novel that is the same as consciousness, so how do you productively draw or articulate something that allows that filling in to happen?”
For you, as a writer, what are your thoughts on parallels between your writing and cartography?

I love this quote and these ideas! In terms of my cartography, I often make maps knowing that the first thing everyone does when they look at a map is try and place themselves in it – the unspoken “you are here” that all maps contain. I apply a similar approach to writing, as most of my writing takes a spatial lens. The power of geography is that it’s something we all experience. Despite the lack of objectivity and all multitude of viewpoints we have, we have a shared geography: landmarks, streets, iconic buildings, beloved parks. A shared geography becomes that unspoken “you are here”, an affirmation of being alive. I think I mostly write for people who already know a place, so that my geographic writing is a foundation for readers to fill in their pre-existing associations with those places. However, I’d like to think that my writing is also accessible to people who aren’t familiar with the places I write about, the same kind of satisfaction that comes from poring over a map of a place you’ve never been.

Q. And do maps influence our relationships with places by allowing “that filling in to happen”, or contrariwise (just learned that word, had to use it)?

They certainly do, and maybe too much. Smart phones and google maps have radically changed our relationship to space. There are so many ways to know a place – relationally, narratively, through personal landmarks and things that change seasonally, for example – but the dominance of google maps has elevated one kind of spatial literacy — the ability to get from point A to B as efficiently as possible – above all the others. And with that comes a kind of distortion, and a dismissal of more subjective forms of orienting ourselves. Looking at Toronto’s ravine system on a google map diminishes their power and the awe that they evoke; the region’s rivers become pithy blue lines that are barely visible. But standing in a Toronto ravine, by one of its rivers is a profound experience. With my maps and writing, I want to encourage other forms of understanding space, in ways that are “emotionally to scale” rather than objective.

Q. Early in the pandemic, your social distancing machine was a hilarious and pointed, yet round, way to demonstrate inadequacies in Toronto’s infrastructure to prevent the spread of the virus despite public health guidelines. That video also went viral, so I’m wondering: how do you define the success of a project? Do you seek to resonate broadly/deeply with urban peers and strangers, and/or endeavor to be heard by decision-makers and authorities?

At the outset of a project or campaign, I like to define was success means, and often do so pragmatically in terms of what audience I want to reach. (I often think that the key to happiness is setting attainable goals). By setting a pragmatic goal, it helps direct a campaign’s message, tone, which sharpens the focus of the campaign while allowing for the project to reach bigger audiences, including policy and decision makers. With the Social Distance Machine, which was created as a campaign with the Toronto Public Space Committee, my collaborator Bobby Gadda and I decided that if our video was posted on 6ixBuzz, a popular if not problematic social media platform, that would mean success. Selecting 6ixBuzz as our audience sharpened the tone and messaging of our approach. And it worked! But since we were so focused, the campaign had a cohesive tone and reached the ears of Toronto mayor John Tory, several city councillors, and many bureaucrats. I’d like to think that the campaign was part of the City’s endorsement of ActiveTO and slow streets.

Q. Despite the city’s obvious shortcomings, has the pandemic given you even more to appreciate about where you live? You appear to be a constantly curious observer with your Atlas Obscura-esque hyper-local, niche geographic knowledge of your surroundings and in-depth urban undertakings like All the Libraries.

I loved how the pandemic made us all urban geographers. During the depths of the first few lock-downs, my social media was full of people making the most of their restrictions on travel by getting to know their own immediate neighborhoods more deeply. And of course I did the same, going on a series of walks, and posting them as Instagram stories, where I would share info about the city and invite my followers to contribute. The pandemic confirmed my commitment to Toronto and to urban life. While the early pandemic motto “we’re all in this together” turned out to be hollow pretty fast, the level of engagement I witnessed and participated in, especially through the Encampment Support Network and Toronto Tiny Shelters, affirmed my belief in urbanity as a force of good, despite the official culture constantly undermining community efforts in favour of private property owners. The legacies of organizing from the pandemic will continue to shape Toronto for a long time. 

Q. What do you make of the fact that googling “idealistic urban geographer” leads only to your blog?!

Wow, that’s so sweet! I often call myself “naïve and optimistic”, which is a necessary counterbalance to my innate cynicism and pragmatism. Despite it all, I still believe in a brighter future.

Q. I am very intrigued by your geomancy practice! How do you give a reading, and if you told your own fortune, what would it be?

Geomancy is an ancient practice, a very old form of fortune telling. When I first heard of the term, I took a deep dive into its history, but it was totally confounding, and I couldn’t make any sense of how it was done! And so, I created my own approach. The fundamental concept is that our subconscious is affected by the geographies we inhabit, and so taking a macro view to analyze the geographic features forming the settings of our lives would give us insight into the thoughts and feelings that inform our daily decision making. So, for example, let’s say you take a subway to work everyday, but there’s a bus that follows the same route, but a bit slower. If, during a Geomancy session, you expressed a feeling of being stuck, I would suggest taking the bus, as it would lead to feelings of openness and expansive possibility, given its overground route. Other examples include the effects of living by the water, on hilltops, crossing train tracks, going into valleys – these all affect us, and Geomancy is an invitation to untangle that. Another name I have for it is “route therapy”.

My own fortune? I live on the edge of two watersheds. Despite most of my activities being in the Don watershed, which I describe as electric, productive, and urbane, I live in the Humber watershed, which is slower, stiller, more bucolic. My fortune is: be aware of this division in my life. My home is in the calmer watershed. Embrace that as a refuge. And when I’m ready to dive into the Don watershed, know that I can always come back to the Humber.

Q. Is there a there there?

Of course!

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Jessica Baker, July

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I work at Ordnance Survey which is Great Britain’s national mapping agency, as a Technical Relationship Consultant specialising in GeoDataViz. My 9-5 essentially involves using geospatial data to make maps and visuals for all sorts of things, from national park anniversaries, to big sporting events, and supporting the public sector with responses to national events such as covid.

Outside of work I am also an artist, which is pretty relevant to this map! I make art using all sorts of mediums but especially love printmaking. I picked it up about 2 years ago as a way to get creative outside work and have since launched an online art business which I absolutely love.

I find mapmaking combines two of my favourite things – the outdoors and art – into a lovely geography sandwich. Tasty…

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: My main inspiration for mapping Antarctica in lino was my passion for protecting the polar regions from the climate crisis. They’re warming at drastically faster rates than anywhere else on earth, and as a result are passing environmental tipping points we didn’t even know existed. It’s pretty scary to be honest.

But on a lighter note! I wanted to make this map to show the beauty of Antarctica – which one of my university lecturers described as ‘Earth’s last true wilderness’ owing to its extreme remoteness and lack of human influence. There’s some incredible plants, animals, and geographical processes occurring there and I wanted to highlight them all together and emphasise how much of a unique place it is.

There were two things which tipped me from having the idea to make a map of Antarctica, into actually doing it. The first was a book given to me by my mum, of paintings of Antarctica done by an artist called Edward Seago. The paintings are all quite monochrome, with lots of blue and grey shades. I’m very partial to a monochrome map too, hence why I just used blue ink for this one.

The second and probably most influential factor in this map was a handmade scrapbook I found in the back of a 2nd hand bookshop a few years ago. It was made by the mother of an explorer who went on an expedition to Antarctica, and it’s full of pictures, drawings, letters and scientific reports from the expedition. It’s a very cool book and includes a lot of anecdotal stories which spurred me on to create this map.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: As I’m sure you can see, this isn’t your typical GIS export map – but the geographer in me wanted to make sure it was still as accurate as it could be. I used data from the website Quantarctica, as well as historic maps of the continent to trace the central map which sits in the middle of the design. As a result it shows real data, and even geographically accurate contours.

In terms of tools used – I used a relief printmaking method which involves carving away from a piece of rubber-y lino using a sharp gouge tool. Because of the level of detail I wanted to include, I knew it would have to be fairly big, and so the design is carved as A3 size and then printed onto A2 paper. The carving was really fiddly at times, but I find the process quite meditative – you can see it being done in action here.

Once the design had been fully carved out of the lino block, I ink it up with a hard roller. It is then hand-printed onto the paper by applying pressure onto the back of the block. It’s quite a manual process, but I haven’t shelled out to buy my own printmakers press just yet! 

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Samara Ebinger, June

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I’m a GIS Specialist at the City of Worcester, Massachusetts. I just recently started last November. I’ve been in the GIS field for a long time but in different capacities, working for a consulting firm, non-profits, state government, and now local government. I love learning new things and trying out new techniques in mapping and GIS. And I have to say that I’ve learned so much just by being on Twitter the past few years and coming across tutorials that the good folks in the geospatial community have put together – this was an important factor in the creation of my calendar map.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: For the past few years, I’ve been interested in different ways to visualize topography and in New Hampshire (where I used to live until recently), you have the White Mountains in the northern part of the state, so that’s been my place of choice to map as of late.

Lately I’ve also been drawn to the aesthetic look of fantasy maps – they have that magical and ethereal quality that I was going for in this map – trying to convey the beauty and magic of a real place (the White Mountains) in that way.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I made this map using QGIS and the technique to visualize the topography is based on a tutorial by Robin Hawkes to create hachures, which I tweaked for a combined hachure & contour line effect. I created the background shaded relief layer using a combination of Blender, GDAL, and QGIS.

Data sources I used are:

  • Elevation data: NASA SRTM; US Geological Survey
  • Trails: National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office and Appalachian Trail Conservancy; U.S. Forest Service
  • Shelters: National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office and Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Water features and park boundaries: OpenStreetMap
  • Roads: New Hampshire Department of Transportation
  • Mountain peaks: I created this point dataset myself using a combination of sources including USGS GNIS data.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Kate Berg, May

Kate Berg's Happiest States Map

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am GIS lead at the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). I’ve been in the field for almost 10 years since my first GIS class at UCLA in 2012. Since then, I’ve taught GIS at the university level and worked in the non-profit, private, and public realms. I currently act as outreach chair for URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of Young Professionals. You can find me on Twitter (@pokateo_) hosting the weekly #GISchat conversation as well as creating and sharing original map-related memes (#mappymeme) as ways to unite and uplift the geospatial community.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map for the 2020 #30DayMapChallenge for Day 4: Hexagons, and then modified it slightly to work better for this calendar. I had found this dataset prior to the Challenge and was looking for an excuse to make something with it. The data tries to identify the happiest states in America based on several indicators, including emotions, “physical-ness”, work, and community. 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I used ArcGIS Pro to create this map. The data comes from the Happiest States in America by WalletHub and I also used the US Hex Cartogram by John Nelson (download here). There was so much information in the happiness dataset (an overall rank as well as emotional and physical well-being rank, work environment rank, and community and environment rank) that I had to get creative on how to show it. It couldn’t be as simple as one hexagon per state…it needed four overlapping hexagons. I ended up playing with offsets to get the desired effect and I’m pretty happy with it – though apparently I live in a pretty averagely happy state (Michigan).

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 Calendar: Dan Fourquet, April

Dan Fourquet's unique map of Richmond, Virginia

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’ve loved maps for my entire life and have been drawing and making maps since my childhood. Currently I live in Richmond, VA. I work for the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment where I do my best to make a positive contribution to Virginia’s transportation plan (VTrans) using my background in GIS and data management.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map

A: In 1864, as the American Civil War was entering its final months and the Union army was closing in on Petersburg and Richmond, the US Coast Survey Office produced a map of Richmond, Virginia, presumably commissioned in support of the Union Army’s ongoing siege, showing the streets and major landmarks of the city. One hundred fifty years later in 2014, the US Geological Survey mapped the same area using lidar to evaluate the damage from Hurricane Sandy. My map combines these two datasets allowing you to see how the city has physically evolved over the past century and a half.

You can easily see how much has remained the same over the years in the basic layout of the streets. The fact that the 19th century map is able to be georeferenced so accurately to the lidar data is a testament to the skill of the surveyors who created the original map. Mayo’s Bridge, the oldest in the city, is clearly visible in both datasets even though it’s been rebuilt a couple times in the interim. Some of the buildings that survived the war are visible in the lidar dataset (in fact I used the Capitol building and the Masonic Hall as control points while georeferencing the 19th century map). The ruins of the Petersburg railrod bridge are clearly visible as periodic squares in the lidar data next to the line in the 19th century map. The most notable change is the removal of the canal system and the additional bridges that were built in the 20th century, as well as the Interstates and the Downtown Expressway that carve their way through the city.

Not as easily seen in the map is the cultural change the city has seen over the course of a century and a half. Before the Civil War, Richmond had the second largest slave market in North America. The St Charles Hotel in the eastern side of the map was known for hosting auctions in the basement. By 2014 there was a growing movement to recognize the city’s dark past, often hidden from the history books, and to remove the massive “lost cause” monuments scattered throughout the city that glorified the Confederacy.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc you used to make the map

A: The 19th century basemap was acquired from the Library of Congress’ map collection. Taking a look at that map by itself is interesting (you can view it at the Library of Congress website), but I decided to try georeferencing it in order to compare it to modern GIS data. I relied on buildings and intersections that have survived since the mid-1800s as control points. I was amazed by how well the map matched up to modern imagery.

The 21st century lidar data was from the USGS National Map. I used WhiteBox Tool’s Python interface to visualize the data using the Time In Sunlight tool. Finally, I combined the two datasets in GIMP image editing software.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Inge van Daelen, Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I started working in the cartography field about 2.5 years ago. I started part-time at Red Geographics as I had a full time job on the side. I studied Chinese and Tourism Destination Management, so I didn’t have a background in GIS at all. Luckily, my friend (and boss) Hans van der Maarel helps me out and I’ve learned a lot. I now provide training in (geo)software packages, give presentations about field-related topics, take on cartographic projects and recently became an FME Certified Professional and Trainer.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: We used to have Friday Funday at the office, where we would try new things. Things that aren’t necessarily productive, but fun and related to what we do. Hans found a tutorial online, made by Tom Patterson, on editing raw satellite images. I immediately became hooked. We decided to create our own webshop selling products with the prints we’ve made, because we wanted to share what we created. I usually go for bright colors, not true to nature per se. Sometimes though, you don’t need to edit them at all, our earth is absolutely stunning as it is! I also make my own accessories, use the images as a background for phones and computers, and we print our images on the notebooks and business cards we hand out during training. Choosing which image I want is often the most difficult part.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is downloaded from the USGS website and then edited in Photoshop. I merged the red, blue and green band together and started the editing. I added two more layers to be able to edit the water and land separately and enhance the quality with another layer. By then, the images were around 16K in quality, so I reduced them to 6-8K, otherwise the files were too big to handle.

A Changing of the Guard at GeoHipster

Mike Dolbow
Mike Dolbow

From Mike

“You’ve seen enough of that one.” –Nigel Tufnel

Well, here we are! It was about five years ago that I agreed to head up the effort to create an independent business for GeoHipster, building off the amazing momentum that Atanas began back in 2013. Since then, I’ve been amazed at all the opportunities and connections that GeoHipster has opened up for me: attending conferences, meeting some pretty cool people (including many of you!), and connecting with other map nerds around the globe. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to do this and “steer the ship” over the past few years.

But, as I explained to my fellow GeoHipster collaborators in December, it’s become pretty clear to me that I’ve run out of steam. I haven’t published an interview since January 2021, I’ve only pitched one or two since then, and I keep forgetting other key parts of the effort. (Notice how late we’ve been in publishing our “Maps and Mappers” posts for 2022.) In other words, I feel like I’m not putting in the effort that our community deserves.

So back in December, I started asking around to see if anyone was interested in taking over leadership of the brand and establishing a new business for it. Lucky for me (and for all of us), Randal stepped up. We’re not in any rush to do a “clean hand-off” or anything like that, but I do anticipate that by the end of this calendar year, GeoHipster will no longer be a registered business in my home state…but will carry on in Tennessee. I’ve got a plan for transferring most of the assets as well as donating to some of our favorite geo-charities.

I’m confident that GeoHipster will be in good hands with Mr. Hale, who has conducted many interviews for us over the years, judged for the calendar, and provided valuable guidance and insights. Perhaps most importantly, he embodies the fun and independent spirit that makes GeoHipster stand out as not just a business, but a force for good within the community. It’s been a pleasure serving in this role over the years, and I’m incredibly excited to see where Randal takes it next. Happy Mapping!

Randal Hale
Randal Hale

From Randal

….and that’s where I come in….I think. Hello! 

Mike put out a call and I slowly stuck my hand up and volunteered to run with this. As Mike said above, Atanas started this weird journey back in 2013. At that point in my life I was sitting in Athens, Georgia responding to Atanas and probably going “What is a geohipster anyway – oh yeah I’ll do some interviews….”. I think we even ran a poll somewhere on what we think a geohipster does. For me the website turned into this documentation project on “why we do what we do”. It’s also scattered with healthy irreverence for this industry, poking a bit in some areas, and just being fun. That’s the most important thing – make it fun. 

Anyway – over the next bit Mike is going to teach me all the hidden features of the website and how GeoHipster is run. I’ve been thinking about this for a good while and I’m excited. Of course I’m already running “one thing” – which is North River Geographic Systems. So I’ll be juggling for a bit as I get into a good routine. 

With that – bear with me as we get this thing rolling. I look forward to it and I hope you all hang with us during this transition.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Jonathan King, January

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: Originally from New England in the U.S., I’m a second year student in the International Master of Science in Cartography degree program, which takes place in Europe at the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Vienna, the Technical University of Dresden, and the University of Twente. Probably like most people reading this article, I’ve been interested in cartography for a long period of my life. Since elementary school, some of my favorite things to do have included perusing the content of globes, atlases, and maps and making maps (or at least attempting to) of real and imaginary places. For my undergraduate education, I completed a B.A. in geography partly because I like maps, but perhaps more than anything because I like a lot of things and geography seemed like a sufficiently broad and synergistic discipline to allow me to pursue a lot of interests. Following graduation, I completed two cartography and geospatial analysis internships and then spent about ten years working in a few jobs that often had little to do with geography – a fact which might be considered hipsterishly ironic because I spent the majority of that time working for National Geographic. I also occasionally did work with maps in volunteer and recreational contexts. 

At some point a few years ago, I decided I wanted to pursue more formal education in cartography and geoinformatics and spend some time living in Europe (my Europhilia is nearly as strong as my cartophilia), so I enrolled in my current program. In addition to maps, I really like reading, traveling, attempting to learn new languages, playing the bassoon, and trying unusual foods. I’m honored by my map’s selection for inclusion in this wonderful calendar alongside the amazing work of other cartographers. Its selection helps me confirm for myself that I’ve likely taken a step in a good direction by studying cartography at the master’s degree level.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map last spring for a class called Project Map Creation, which is a degree requirement for my current study program. It is taught by professional cartographer Manuela Schmidt, to whom I’d like to express strong gratitude for the help she gave me while I worked on the map at the Technical University of Vienna. Students enrolled in the class are required to spend a semester creating an analog thematic map about a topic of their choice. In past years when this course was offered, many students made maps showing cultural features of the places they’re from. I decided I wanted to do the same thing. The thought struck me that Maine’s lighthouses might be an interesting focus for my map: They are culturally iconic of the place where I’m from and have a large number of spatial attributes suitable for visualization on a map and ancillary infographics. 

I often kayak along the ocean coastline of Maine’s Midcoast region in the early evenings when lighthouses first begin to flash their lights. I’m curious to learn the geographic locations of the lighthouses associated with the lights I see, as well as general information about the lighthouses’ histories and how they can be used for navigation. I thought other kayakers and casual boaters might be similarly curious, so I created the map with these people in mind as target users. The map shows the geographic locations of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses, the colors and flash patterns of the lights’ primary lights, and the oceanic spaces where each light is generally visible for an observer two feet above sea level (such as a kayaker) during a night with good weather conditions (meteorological visibility of ten nautical miles).

As is the case with all maps, this one excludes information about the geography it depicts, including some I’ve come to think is important. In addition to the primary lighthouse lights the map provides information about, small sector lights, whose colors, flash patterns, and visible ranges differ from those of the primary lights, shine from some of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses. When making my map, I decided not to include information about these sector lights, since I couldn’t quickly figure out how to do so in a legible and aesthetically pleasing way. I considered their exclusion an appropriate generalization for the map’s scale. However, in retrospect I’ve questioned this decision because lighthouse sector lights help mariners avoid dangers to navigation. My exclusion of this information likely means that while the map is appropriate for use as an art object published in a calendar, it should not – despite its title and original intended use case – actually be used for navigation.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: My sources include:

I carried out geoinformation pre-processing in ArcGIS pro and cartographic styling Adobe Illustrator.