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Artist Spotlight: Historic Perspectives

Foursided recently acquired stylish maps from Historic Perspectives founder and creator: Graham Hillhouse. The stunning reprints of vintage Chicago maps (both pre and post fire) are lining our walls and they could line yours too! We got in touch with Graham to find out about his creations, inspirations, and framing concepts! See the full interview below:

How do you go about choosing and researching each map? 

When I first started this project I was very careful about choosing maps where the most interest would lie, mostly large cities. It didn’t take long for me to realize that was a fairly flawed approach. I started to see a lot of interest in towns I didn’t expect. Places like Kent Ohio, Denton Texas, Elmira New York generated just as much interest as places like New York, L.A., and Austin. At this point I’ve given up on my ability to predict the popularity of a map from a certain city. If I find a map that can be reasonably restored and shows a great contrast of past vs present, I’ll usually go forward with it.

Do you look for a specific style and date range?

I love maps almost universally, regardless of the style or date range, but right now I’m focused on mid to late 19th century and early 20th century panoramic/bird’s eye view maps. Their appeal is less functional but more artistic. Rather than showing only the street layout, they show individual buildings, the city landscape, and cultural areas. I think the inclusion of churches, public houses, architectural styles, civic buildings, etc gives a better taste of the past than your typical street map.

Why do you think the trend of decorating with vintage maps is back with a vengeance?

I think the emergence of digital maps plays a fairly large role. I use Google or Apple maps on my phone everyday. The reintegration of maps back into our everyday lives makes it easier to appreciate and admire what once was. I see a lot of people using maps to represent important things in their lives, whether it’s their geographical roots, or fond memories of a person, trip, or event.

Do you ever get maps framed? If yes, what frame style do you lean toward?

I’m extremely partial to vintage, rustic looking frames. There is an abundance of cedar in and around the Austin area. People use it to build barns and fences, so it is ripe for reclaiming. I think the weathered patina of the wood lends a bit of credibility to the map, making it look less like a reproduction.

Are there any particular artists, photographers, cartographers you are inspired by?

I have quite a few favorites, but the one that sticks out the most is Augustus Koch. He was a German immigrant that was responsible for most of the bird’s eye view maps of Texas cities. Since there weren’t any viable means to get an “actual” bird’s eye view, he would walk entire cities documenting important buildings and geographic features along the way. Aside from being very detailed and accurate, he was also known for his inclusion of African-American communities in his lithographs, which was rare at the time. Since many of the cartographers of that era conveniently left out the existence of African-American communities, his maps often provide the sole graphical representation of those communities. Thank you Graham!! To purchase and frame one of these beauties stop by our Foursided stores anytime. If you are looking for a vintage map of a different city (how dare you!) Historic Perspectives has more options available.

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