People and Places Become One in Mesmerizing Portraits Drawn on Maps

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

Whether you're from a city or a small coastal town, the location of your home has a major impact on your life. Artist Ed Fairburn highlights the relationship between people and places through his ongoing series of drawings made on vintage maps. He uses his masterful skills to merge human portraits with the existing layout of towns and cities, seamlessly expressing the way in which our environment shapes who we are.

Each of these unique illustrations is hand-drawn on maps from Fairburn's own collection, and sometimes on maps that he finds specifically for a project. Then, Fairburn uses a pen to slowly sketch a face onto the piece of cartography, navigating the pre-existing marks to unite the portrait in a natural way. Through hatches and cross-hatching, he creates faces that look as though they were always meant to be there—as though their resemblance was printed underneath the mapping of the particular location.

Fairburn uses a range of different maps in his art. Many of them depict well-known towns and cities in Europe. However, he has also expanded his series to include trench maps as well as topographical ones and even cartography of space. In each of these cases, the individual is expressed in such a way that is natural to the original map—including the style and level of detail involved.

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 creates incredible drawings on maps.

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

This ongoing series explores the relationship between people and places.

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

Fairburn renders detailed portraits on top of cartography, seamlessly merging two different subjects.

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

He uses maps of towns and cities as well as topographical ones—changing his style to suit the subject.

Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn Map Portrait by Ed Fairburn

Watch these videos to see Fairburn's creative process:


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A post shared by Ed Fairburn (@edfairburn)

Ed Fairburn: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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

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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. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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