Portrait Artist Ed Fairburn Uses Maps as His Canvas

by CaroPosted on

With the invent of GPS technology and map applications, paper maps are waning in use – but they are an essential material to English artist Ed Fairburn, who uses them as the canvas of his detailed portraits. Fairburn’s work is an imaginative incorporation of the human form and topography. He’s used maps of places from all over the world. The winding layouts of streets and rivers are enhanced to form wrinkles, veins, and other features of his subjects’ faces. Different types of maps create surprising results and patterns, embellished with pen work. For instance, a map of the California coastline becomes the shape of a classical nude, where in another, the depth of a contour map produces a marbling effect. “My work is mostly figurative and exists across a range of surfaces and contexts. It’s sometimes interactive, often playful but serious most of the time,” he says.

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