Denise Kreb
Denise Kreb

14 Magnificent Map Tattoos

Denise Kreb
Denise Kreb

These days, most people rely on GPS to get them from point A to point B, but there are those who still have a soft spot for good old fashioned maps. Here are some people who love cartography so much they got maps permanently inked into their skin.

1. The Traveler

Bill Passman is a world traveler who keeps track of his adventures with this massive back tattoo. Every time he visits a new country, he gets it shaded in. Based on his progress so far, it looks like Passman very well may be able to fill in his whole map within the next few years. The outlines were done by Mike at Tattoo Antigua in Antigua, Guatemala, and the colors were filled in by Natural Mystic Tattoo in Pineville, Louisiana.

2. Unraveling Earth's Mysteries

The stretched and squished proportions make this map completely unique and entirely beautiful, especially when viewed in full—the map explodes from an unraveled string of DNA. This lovely work was photographed by DeviantArtist ComaBlue.

3. The Weight of the World on His Shoulders

He may not have the whole world in his hands, but he's got it stretched across his back. No word on who did this tattoo, but the photographer and model are both Oliver Joe McLaughlin.

4. Worlds And Worlds

Photographer Denise Kreb's friend Maria has a lovely map tattoo on her back, which looks particularly impressive in front of a full-color world map.

5. Colors of the City

Deanna Wardin tattooed this beautiful watercolor version of a map of San Francisco on one lucky local's arm.

6. Beguiling Belgrade

This striking tattoo truly looks like a piece of abstract art. It was done by the Dark Arts Collective of Serbia.

7. Rounded Out

These beautiful stereographic hemispheres, complete with their own sea monsters, were tattooed by Adam Bomb of Milwaukee.

8. Traveling Lily

Compass alstroemeria doesn't have quite the same ring to it as a compass rose, but artist Alexander Lincoln Wolff's tattoo of a compass and a Peruvian Lily on a burnt map shows that any flower will work well as a navigational tool.

9. Surfing the World

Photographer Alan Light captured this fantastic photo of a surfer in Waikiki with a world map tattooed across his back. I have no information on the surfer or who did his work, but the photo is certainly impressive—it perfectly captures that surfer dream of catching the biggest waves across the globe.

10. National Pride

This break dancer has a map of the Philippines tattooed across his back, which is regularly on display during competitions. Like the surfer, there's no information on who he is or who did the work, but the photo was taken by DeviantArtist Schizoasylum.

11. Brazilian Beauty

Northeast Brazil is obviously home to this proud tattooee. Artist Alex Fontes of Arsenal Tattoo did a magnificent job capturing the terrain of Brazil in this impressive piece.

12. Kicking It Old School

This gal is obviously a fan of the classics—though she's obviously not into stuff that's too old or she would have left off the New World altogether. This wonderful map was inked by Karrie Lynne Whitfield.

13. Something Old and Something New

This tattoo by DeviantArtist Strangeris has the burned, frayed look of many classic maps, but the land masses look like they've been removed from the picture, giving the work an all new and intriguing look of its own.

14. Tools of the Trade

Paper maps, globes, and compasses were once all you could use to navigate the brave seas. Andrew Mitchell's cool navigation tattoo reminds us of the majesty of travel pre-GPS.

Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
The Covers of Jack Kerouac's Classic Titles Are Getting a Makeover
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press

Readers have been enjoying classic Jack Kerouac books like The Dharma Bums and On the Road for decades, but starting this August the novels will have a new look. Several abstract covers have been unveiled as part of Penguin’s "Great Kerouac" series, according to design website It’s Nice That.

The vibrant covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline. The artwork is intended to capture “the experience of reading Kerouac” rather than illustrating a particular scene or character, Etherington told It’s Nice That. Indeed, abstract styles of artwork seem a fitting match for Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”—a writing style that was influenced by improvisational jazz music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Dharma Bums, which was published just one year after On the Road. The Great Kerouac series will be available for purchase on August 2.

[h/t It's Nice That]

John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.


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