Ed Fairburn: Blending The Topography Of Maps And Faces


In his unconventional, un-thought of illustrations, UK based Ed Fairburn experiments with blending people and places so artistically that, after the works are complete, it is impossible to phantom one without another. Working in combining the topography of land with that of faces, Fairburn uses techniques such as cross-hatching, bold-lining, grid-patterning and shading to reveal on maps what was, perhaps, always there, but hidden to the eye. Roads and rivers turn into blood vessels, street blocks into hair and elevation into freehand, fragile curves of the human face.

Ed Fairburn: Blending The Topography Of Maps And Faces
via Ed Fairburn

Using simple pencils and pens, the artist transforms places into people. Take a step back, his muse is revealed. A step forward, and all confinement is lost. 

The artist believes that the art of reading maps has been lost because of the internet, but there is something so tactile about it. He scores the maps from a shop around the corner, and many times, maps that tell of Europe remind him of a hitchhiking trip he had been on around the continent. 

He discovers places on the pieces of paper that he has been to, in real life, and the process at once becomes more personal and satisfying. 

What we are intrigued by is how Ed Fairbairn is

able to read into maps and decide the face that would be there. The artist, after buying the maps, studies them for hours and hours, trying to grasp the detail and decide how to play around them. 

Many times, he would let his artistic fancy do its work, the pursuit guiding him, the face not yet clear in his mind. However, when he does have a destination to work for, he would tweak the map to match what he is imagining. Both times, though, the results are just as startling.

Not only road maps, Fairburn has also worked on star maps. The artist has a sweet spot for already patterned and textured surfaces, for they allow revelation. 

Who we are is, at its most, defined by where we are, but where we are has been ultimately created from who we are. 

You’ll also love these hyper-realistic bubble wrap paintings by Darian Mederos.


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