No, I’m not talking about the University of Oregon Ducks playing in today’s Rose Bowl. (Though I’ll certainly be following the game to see how they do.) I’m talking about…cartographers.
Check out this opening paragraph from an article in Slate:
American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore.
The article is a great read for map geeks, as it illustrates exactly what about Imus’ map makes it so much better than the norm. (In a word: painstaking detail work, some 6,000 hours worth.) Apparently Slate’s recognition of Mr. Imus and his map has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it sent a tsunami of interested map shoppers to his web site. On the other hand, all of those shoppers crashed his site. (It’s still crashed as of this posting, but if you want to try later, go to Imus Geographics.)
It’s great to see another Oregon cartographer get national attention. A couple of hours’ drive south of Eugene is Raven Maps & Images, a small mapmaking company that turns out renowned maps of individual states, the US, the world, Mexico, and a lucky few national parks. I have a Raven Map of Oregon hanging on the wall above my desk, and it’s not just a map. It’s art.
In today’s world of digitalized maps and outsourced editing (I did not know that many of the big US companies outsource their detail work to India!), the small companies that make maps the old fashioned way deserve all the recognition they can get. I’m quite proud that two of the best are located in Oregon.