Obscura Academy Challenge: Make Your Own Amazing Maps

Welcome to the discussion for the Obscura Academy Challenge: Make Your Own Amazing Maps. You can share your maps along with any comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.

We can’t wait to see what you make!

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Now I want to dig up my copy of The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, an underrated YA novel about a precocious cartographer who maps everything in his life. Maps of “How to Read This Book”, shucking corn, and other non-spatial subjects adorn the pages. I honestly got halfway through it before I realized it was written for teenagers. Excellent reading for map fans.

Yesterday I made a map of a Ham Radio installation for my van with comically oversized connection points, since the map was supposed to guide me through the parts ordering process. Even though I drew the map I still got lost.

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Oooh! I’ve never heard of this book but it sounds great, will have to see if I can get my hands on a copy.

Hope you get your radio installation figured out!

Loved this!

I run a travel-inspired newsletter, and I gave my readers a map-drawing challenge just a week ago. I’m still taking entries for it, and I’d love to get a couple of them from this community :smiley:

For those of you who might be interested, here’s the abridged version of the challenge, and the why.

The Challenge

All you’re going to need are a piece of paper, and a writing device.

Now close your eyes, and imagine a map of the world. The point of this exercise is not to get anything “right,” so don’t look it up — that would ruin it!

Imagine a map of the world, and then locate yourself on that map. Then, locate Ukraine.

Open your eyes, and sketch the map you imagined. You can do it in as much or as little detail as you want, but I’d like you to indicate at least the country you’re in, as well as Ukraine — their borders. To finish it up, mark the city where you’re located with a dot or an X, and also your best guess for L’viv. (That’s not quite where I live, but it’s close enough, and you’re more likely to have heard about it.) Then send it to me :smiley:

(If you have friends around the world, you can also do this challenge with them, replacing Ukraine by wherever you live; I think it could be fun!)


When I’m cycle touring, many people seem mystified by my arrival — “Wow, you’re from Brazil — and you came all the way here by bicycle!?” While that is no doubt always amusing, I’ve never thought of those people as unlearned — I understood that our geographic models of the world simply emphasized different places. For most of them, I wouldn’t have been able to locate where they lived relative to where I grew up either — I especially remember finally memorizing where Lithuania was relative to Latvia and Estonia when I rode there between Belarus and Russia (Kaliningrad) in 2017.

I wanted access to their experience — what did the world look like in their minds’ eyes? Someone suggested that I asked them to sketch me a map. Back in 2017, I didn’t speak any Slavic languages, though, and I accepted that as a deterrent.

Part of my plan for this travel season was to collect such drawings more systematically, and also from those people I felt I wasn’t able to ask back then. A friend of mine that I had an inspiring call with last week pointed out that I could still do that, even if not quite the way I had envisioned it. So, I asked my newsletter subscribers, and now I’m asking you :wink:

You may follow the link for more details :slight_smile:

ps. I’ll share your input with my newsletter in a couple of weeks, and I will ask my readers if I can also share their contributions here!

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I’ve been making what I call “Metaphysical Maps” for some time, maps of internal journeys. This one is called “Lingua Tactus Nebula”, (The Mysterious Language of Touch"), which depicts touch as a globe. Touching one another presents us with an entire language of human meaning, yet one in which we commonly know very few expressions. Here the whole landscape of touch, with all its manifestations––Sexual, Violent, Ritual, Æsthetic, Play and Technical–– is mapped. Though we can name and find 10,000 different things in the hardware store, we have only a handful of “words” in our touch language. To me, this points out how rich could be such a language once we determine to explore and develop it.

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