About Artimaps


The following is an interview that may answer some of the questions about what is Artimaps and why on earth do you what you do. Thanks to Annie Condit of the (sadly) now closed L/E Art Gallery in downtown Huntsville for the questions:

Explain what you do:

As Artimaps LLC, I provide cartographic, artwork, design and public safety consulting services. This includes the unique hand-drawn plausible fictitious maps that I have been creating since the age of five. These maps are created on a variety of mediums, including wood, board, canvas and even skin!

I create maps of real places and offer custom artwork as commissions. Commissioned maps are very unique and involve consultation with the client to be able to include significant aspects, places and events of their life into a map.

When did you start creating art? Why?
At age 5! On a family holiday to the seaside.

As best I can remember, it was raining and we were essentially €œstuck€ inside. I have paper and pens so started drawing a map that was loosely based on things I had seen on the trip. I would also try to map read from an early age and enjoyed the ability I had to see a place on a map and image what it would look like, but also see a place and image what the map would look like.

I am lucky to still have some of my earliest maps, from about the age of 8 onwards.

What'€™s your background?

I am originally from Aberfan in South Wales and lived in Addlestone, Windsor and then Datchet in Southern England. I have lived in Huntsville, Alabama (my wife Jodi'€™s hometown) since 1996 and share studio 308 with her at Lowe Mill.

I was trained as a cartographer by the British Government's Military Survey mapping agency from the age of 16 and worked in GIS, software implementation, customer training and software design (within Public Safety) for Intergraph in Huntsville and InterAct (based in North Carolina).

How has your work/practice changed over time?

My work has become much more detailed and accurate. The plausibility of the fictitious maps has significantly improved with additional research and the help of Google Maps!

The mediums that I use have evolved from exclusively pen and colored pencil on paper to using a variety of mediums as I know see the potential for cartography in almost any surface.

How do you remain positive and hopeful when either the ideas stop flowing, the work dries up, or the money stops coming in?

I have always created maps, and suspect I always will. There is no shortage of inspiration or maps that I want to create. I have mostly created for my own purposes and am trying to investigate more ways to do that and have better options to allow more sales/commissions to allow the maps to provide a more sustainable income.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person?

Finding the patience and time to allow myself to create just some of the ideas that I have (there are many)!
I can visualize finished items, so being able to wait several months for a large map to be complete is both rewarding (seeing the progress) and potentially frustrating, as I often have the next idea ready.

The largest challenge was to try the maps as fulltime, since being laid off from my "€œnormal" job in 2014. My maps as art have always been something else that I do (though as I have worked in mapping/GIS and software design, always somewhat relevant), but changing the main income is pretty scary at times. I now create the artwork fulltime and provide GIS consulting as the part-time work.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I have been lucky enough to have had a few wonderful things said about me and my work, so here are a few:

One of the best and most humbling complements I had was observing a gentleman from Liechtenstein looking at one of my fictitious maps in my studio at Lowe Mill and explaining to his American friends where it was and what the town by the lake looked like. When I asked where he thought it was, he said Southwest Switzerland, near Geneva.

I broke the news gently, that it was all "€œmade up"€, but was indeed €œset€ in Southwest Switzerland, near Geneva. He insisted it was just like a place he had been to and was thankfully not offended or embarrassed. That was the best confirmation of how seriously I take the €œplausible€ in what I call my "€œhand drawn plausible fictitious maps".

Some of the nicest things people have said are:

"You are the most creative person I know".

"Have you ever had a brain scan to see what is going on in there?"€

When looking at œMillbury€ (my largest, most detailed realistic map):
"That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen"

"€œAre you crazy?"


If money were no object, what would you make?

I would do the same, but most likely try to go bigger. I have dreamed of creating an entire city park sized map, as well as just larger versions of what I do now.

I also love to work with people (creating highly detailed maps can be quiet a solitary experience), so am currently enjoying the "€œHuman Terrain"€ series I have started, which is really two parts:

1. Create temporary maps directly on the skin using the €œterrain/shape€ of the person to influence the map and contours, where these are fictional places.

2. Looking at scars differently -€“ creating a map on someone who has large or significant scars that we can turn into a piece of temporary art, as a map, incorporating the scars as features.

What role does the artist have in society?

I have always felt a bit of a "€œcrossover"€ to be honest. I have worked as a civil servant in the U.K., for corporations in the U.S. (albeit in mapping fields) but know software implementation, design and agile development methodologies. I have acted as a customer advocate and €œmediator€ between different groups of people. Being creative really has helped me perform all my professional functions and also have some fun doing it.

That leads me to think that from a society's point of view, my role is to help people look at things in a different way, or from another (or another person'€™s) perspective.

I believe the artist is a more inquisitive and questioning person, who can create things that either show something of their own thoughts and/or help other people question theirs.


David Nuttall was born in Aberfan in South Wales. He has lived in Addlestone, Windsor and Datchet before moving to Huntsville, Alabama in 1996. Huntsville is his wife's hometown and David shares a studio at Lowe Mill with Jodi who is a wonderful artist. David has been drawing maps since the age of five and continues to create with the same concept of making places look like they could be real, but all from his imagination. Click to watch his TEDx and find out more.

Artimaps provides cartography, hand drawn maps and consulting services.

For updates, new maps and images, follow David:

Instagram: @Artimaps

Facebook: Artimaps

Twitter: Artimaps_DavidN


by David Nuttall