UK-based artist Ed Fairburn commemorates the connection between people and places in his unconventional illustrations. Using hand-picked maps from his collection, he carefully adds hand-drawn portraits to the topography of cities and landscapes, merging human figures with the environment.
“At its core, my work is loosely about coexistence,” he tells My Modern Met. “That can mean commemorating the links an individual has with a particular location, but it can also represent something much wider, shining a light on the similarities between ourselves and this place we call home—celebrating the way in which we are a product of the landscape, and recognizing how the landscape is increasingly becoming a product of us, our actions, and the choices we all make.”
Fairburn masterfully blends the delicate planes of people's faces with the cartographical elements of the map, finding natural ways to merge the lines of rivers, mountains, and streets with the contours of someone's chin, eyes, and other facial features.
Fairburn has been experimenting with unusual drawing mediums since college. Instead of working with traditional plain paper, he was attracted to surfaces that already had design and texture. Maps and pen portraits were the ideal pairing, as they seamlessly combined his interest in figurative drawing with traditional maps. “Contours become fingerprints, blood vessels become roads, railways, and waterways. It's all connected,” Fairburn adds.