The image below is from the personal work of designer and illustrator Paula Scher. The text functions as both texture and data, and the design works on a number of levels.
First, I am attracted to the to the irregularity, imperfection, and humanity of this hand-made map. The repetitive quality of the drawn words creates a sense of time and a value through simple labor. From a distance the concentric curving lines of text create movement and a texture like raked sand.
At a closer look you can see how the information on the map is organized by scale and contrast. For example, Columbia is the largest and most contrasting word in that country—being that it’s the country. Next, nearly as large but less contrasting are the capital, Bogota, and other major cities. The remainder of the text covers the country from edge to edge and is smaller and deep yellow. Within the Gulf of Panama “Drug Traffic” receives emphasis because of its contrasting cream stroke.
At an even closer look the map becomes almost exclusively about politics, economics, and environmental issues. The hand-drawn execution personalizes what for most of us in the US are far away places—far away geographically, far away in that we don’t think of them often, and far away being that we know very little about these countries.
By spending time and reading the text, I imagine myself writing down all these words—trying to learn what I do not know and to remember the many things I have forgotten.