Charles Labanowski is into maps. Really into maps. He creates hundreds of stylized city maps, prints them out, puts them on his wall, and sells them on his website. He’s even given up his day job–to make maps.
Above, you can see just 12 of the 483 maps he’s put together so far. They’re both an accurate reflection of the actual topography of places and impressionistic in what they depict. Labanowski says he decides what roads, railways, parks, and rivers to leave in and out based on what looks best.
“Maps are at the intersection of so many interesting things,” he says. “For one, they are a beautiful combination of organic and unplanned, and inorganic and planned growth–sort of a constantly evolving, living history. They can also be emotionally evocative–whether it’s reminding you of some past experience or inspiring a desire to travel and explore a new place.”
The choice of colors–Tehran is red and yellow, Tokyo is dark pink–comes from visiting the cities or studying photos. For example, Florence is orangey-red because of its tiled roofs.
“As a canvas on which to experiment with color, maps are perfect because while all cities are different, they also all have the same general elements that can be styled in a limitless number of combinations,” Labanowski says.
Labanowski and his partner Michael Putterman sell prints of the maps through their website.