Navigating the wonderful world of Ed Fairburn

At some point or another, all of us have convinced ourselves we’ve seen rabbits in clouds or a face in the moon, but one of our newest sellers, Ed Fairburn, takes this one step further. Fairburn has found an ingenious way to recycle old maps, picking out and transforming their features into soulful faces.

Cambridge Map Portrait Print by Ed FairburnCambridge Map Portrait Print

Ed, 23, studied illustration at Cardiff Metropolitan University. His recent series of map portraits continues the themes that he explored towards the end of his time at university. He uses the lines and details in the maps to form the structure of hauntingly beautiful portraits.

Deutschland Map Portrait Print by Ed FairburnDeutschland Map Portrait Print

Ed talked us through the intricate process of creating each piece, telling us of a rather ironic aspect of working with maps in this way:

“The process of plotting my portraits involves drafting particular details first, as a kind of ‘framework’ – but because there’s so much going on already (lines and patterns everywhere) I often lose my outlines – the irony of getting lost on a map amuses me every time this happens.”

New technology, not to mention simply the passing of time, means that many old maps are now redundant and consigned to the bottom of cupboards, but Ed puts them to an innovative new use. Sourcing his maps from second-hand book stores and charity shops, he uses his artist’s eye to uncover more character hidden in their details than many would normally see.

Windermere Map Portrait Print by Ed FairburnWindermere Map Portrait Print

Ed’s work is a celebration of the uniqueness and intricacy of both the human face and our mapped landscapes. His work ranges from highly textured contour maps of the Lake District, to city maps and even entire countries.

Ed told us: “through working on maps, the variety of pattern that I see is a real treat – no two square inches are ever the same”.

'The Starry Heavens' Map Print I by Ed FairburnThe Starry Heavens Map Print I

We’re delighted to have Ed’s work on the site. You can view his new range of £50 prints in his notonthehighstreet.com store.

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