The Great Bear by Simon Patterson is perhaps the most famous reappropriation of any subway map–London or otherwise. It charts London’s icons by replacing station names along the Tube with names of actors, philosophers, writers, saints, and other leaders in cultural developments. Patterson once said of the piece, “I like disrupting something people take as read.” His preconception-rattling piece inspired any number of other transit map imitations, and now Manchester has one of its own.
Graphic artist Aiden Smith’s subway map-flavored homage is to The Smiths, the brooding and swooning rock band of the 1980s, rather than all of London’s cultural visionaries. But, thanks to guiding design principles established by the likes of Harry Beck and Massimo Vignelli, the informational journey is just as effective (and likely far more heart-wrenching).
“As The Smiths are from (and inextricably linked to) Manchester and areas of the city are frequently referenced in their songs, it seemed an appropriate way to ‘map’ their discography,” Smith says. The designer plotted a new version of Manchester, with each underground line named after one of The Smiths’ four studio albums, their collections, and a live LP. The stations represent the track list for each album, in order, and symbols denote the direction of play, note which tracks are on the B-side only, and so on.
The visualization also uses clever color cues; it assigns albums to Manchester lines based on the predominant color from each album sleeve. Like the diehard fan he is, Smith used only “my collection of The Smiths records and CDs and the Manchester tram map” to plot the map.
Nevermind that The Smiths disbanded 25 years ago; now you can get their entire body of work for about $30.
See more of (Aiden) Smith’s work at Proof Spirit.
[Image: The Smiths via FanArt]