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About

We are Axis Maps, a small cartography company that specializes in designing and building custom interactive maps for a wide variety of clients. Originally based in Madison, WI, we are now spread across two continents. You can view our website to see our portfolio of work and learn more about our other resources and products.

About the maps

The typographic maps began as a fun side-project, something to work on between hours spent creating user interface mock-ups in Photoshop or writing HTML and Javascript code. The project has now expanded to a full line of ten city maps and several limited edition high-quality, hand-printed letterpress maps. The maps accurately depict streets, highways, parks, bodies of water, and more using nothing but text bearing the names of those features. Only by meticulously weaving together thousands upon thousands of words does a full picture of the city emerge. Every single piece of type was carefully placed, a process that took hundreds of hours to complete for each map.

There was nothing automated about making these maps. Everything was laid out manually in Adobe Illustrator, from entering names over an OpenStreetMap image, to nudging text along curved paths to depict flowing water, to selectively erasing text to create a woven street pattern. Each city intentionally differs in style, but the end result is similar: from a distance it can appear as an accurate reference map, and as you get closer you notice the thousands of words it comprises.