Favorite Cartographers: Erwin Raisz

Normal people don’t have favorite cartographers, but I think many geographers do.  I’ve simply fallen in love with the maps of Erwin Raisz.  How?  It’s not a name you hear too often, if at all, in the world of geography, it’s true.  I was introduced to his work by a writing assignment in one of my geography core classes for my PhD.  We were asked to write essays about famous geographers and directed to a series of volumes in the library containing short biographies of geographers.  I just started flipping through pages, found a cartographer, and went to work researching for my essay.  This is what I found:

Examples of Rasz's physiography from his book, Principles of Cartography.

Raisz developed this style of drawing maps that shows the landforms not as abstract symbols but as they look in real life.  They are seemingly more art than science, but appearances are deceiving in this respect because the man was a masterful cartographer.

An example of Raisz's style applied to the state of Michigan.

The detail in these maps and the amount of information is astounding.  This is really what I strive for in my own products – the combination of art and science that makes the subject feel so easy to understand, but conveys so much information.

Erwin Raisz's Armadillo Projection

And finally, if all the prettiness didn’t win you over yet, how can you not love the sense of humor in making a map projection in the shape of an armadillo?

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About micheletobias

I lead two lives - one as an artist and the other as a scientist. More and more I'm finding my two worlds colliding, and it's not the disaster you might expect. View all posts by micheletobias

One response to “Favorite Cartographers: Erwin Raisz

  • Ron Brister

    Nice web site. Thanks for posting it.

    Raisz was the rare combination of artist and scientist. He made geomorphology/physiography real to me. When I was in college in the mid 1960s, his maps were frequently seen in bookstores. They are less seen now, but still available from his family business on line.

    Ron in Memphis

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