Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Woodblock Prints

When I was studying in Japan, I took a class in traditional woodblock printing and really enjoyed it. I realized recently that map forms would probably translate really well to that kind of printmaking technique. It was great to try it out again after a few years. I cut a small 2" x 2" block, and printed a few small envelopes to use at craft fairs:

I like the way that every print comes out completely differently, based on orientation and ink density. I'd love to do some larger ones for the paper shopping bags I give out, as well!


  1. These are cool. I really like woodblock prints.

    I wonder if this technique might allow you to make more compelling nighttime maps. You've mentioned that you like seeing how people conform to the geography around them, but that this is hard to see in nighttime maps. However, I think that nighttime maps _can_ show this interaction with geography -- we see it in the places where there the light suddenly stops.

    So, here's an idea:
    What if you drip ink on a woodblock to make rivers/lakes, just like in many of your maps. Then, you can etch around these bodies of water with the usual signs of civilization. But, when you finally print the map, we'll only see the light from the city, not the original geography.

    Just like a city at night: the geography will only show up in the negative space.

  2. Jeremy, I love that idea! I think it makes a lot of sense. I'll have to find a larger block and try it! I just found a great set of photos for inspiration, too:
    See especially the aerial view of Chicago, where the light suddenly drops off at Lake Michigan.

  3. very nice! They have a 'classy' look.