Hailing from rural Switzerland, London-based artist and designer Ursula Hitz (www.ursulahitz.com, www.saatchiart.com/ursulahitz) is fond of typography, graphics and cheese-making. A master’s graduate of the London College of Communication, she has, since moving to the UK a decade ago, focussed on the themes of location and place.
She meticulously creates “typographic maps” of the world’s best-known cities – the ones that she has visited. We see geographical units filled with decorative lettering – the names of neighbourhoods. Ursula is interested in the ways in which letters capture not only the dimensions of a place, but its personality too.
On her passion for “place names”, she says, “I love becoming fixated on their intricacies, before taking a step back and seeing a bigger structure evolve. Unlike regular maps, mine don’t focus on streets or buildings. Instead, they build an organic texture of words that grow from the centre – in the way that most cities have grown. Each letter in my maps is uniquely hand crafted. I like to give attention to the visual/textural aspect rather than the functionality and legibility of alphabets.” While making her art, Ursula refers to official council maps, travel guides and Google maps. She always asks a local resident to review her work.
Ursula admires the work of the Seattle-based illustrator Nate Williams (currently Art Director at Microsoft). “He uses a naive, child-like style,” she says, “that is very original, beautiful and poetic without being cheesy.” She is also inspired by the work of Jessica Hische, a San Francisco-based lettering artist whose clients include the filmmaker Wes Anderson, Penguin Books, The New York Times, Tiffany and Nike. “I’d describe her as a contemporary scribe,” Ursula says. “Her work draws from traditional typography, the style is playful and perfectionist. The way she brings together letterform and image is fascinating.”
Featured image is “Swiss mountain map”, cities follow.
All photos used with permission.