Artist Reimagines Topographical Maps With Detailed Hand-Drawn Portraits

Drawings on Maps by Ed Fairburn

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.

You can purchase available original art and limited edition prints via Fairburn's online store, and keep up to date with his latest projects by following him on Instagram.

Artist Ed Fairburn adds detailed drawings of faces to traditional maps.

Drawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed Fairburn

These mesmerizing illustrations depict a coexistence between individuals and places.

Drawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed Fairburn

It's a reminder of our relationship to the landscapes we occupy.

Drawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnDrawings on Maps by Ed FairburnEd Fairburn: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature images by Ed Fairburn.

Related Articles:

Artist Fills Sketchbooks With Pencil Drawings of Old Hollywood and More

Tokyo’s 2D Cafe Looks Like an Incredible Manga Drawing

Vintage Plant Drawings Explore the Unseen Beauty of Complex Tree Root Systems

Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. When she’s not writing, Margherita continues to develop her creative practice in sequential art.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]