Ursula Hitz is an artist and designer. Born in rural Switzerland, she cultivated diverse talents in typography, graphics and cheese making.
Since moving to London a decade ago, Ursula’s work has focused on location and place. She meticulously creates typographic maps of the world’s best-known cities. Ursula is interested in the ways that letters capture not only the dimensions of a place, but its personality too.
We caught up with Ursula to find out more about her city maps and what inspires her...
How did you get into map making?
"I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Switzerland and always had a fascination for big cities. I have a degree in Graphic Design, and a lot of exposure to classic typography. Before making typographic maps I had started creating hand drawn typefaces (fonts) under the foundry name Letters+Numbers. This consequently lead to making maps made of words."
Why the passion for maps?
"The maps gave me a chance to break all rules of typography; using multi-size, distorted, non-linear fluid type, creating organic textures as much as informational pieces."
What intrigues you about place names?
"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 same way that most cities have grown."
What's your process?
"When I made the first London map I had lived in the capital for over 7 years and had a pretty good idea of its landmarks. I have visited every city that I've mapped and I always consult a local for their expertise on which place names to include. In the past few years I've visited Stockholm, Barcelona, Tokyo and Goa Town but haven't brought them down on paper... yet."
What are your top 3 favourite pieces?
1) Greater London Map - White on Graphite
"This is the latest print in the London series. It traces the outlines of Greater London and is the most 'complete' map I've made of London so far in terms of name places included. I love the monochrome look; white ink on a thick specialist graphite paper that has a matt velvety surface."
2) Map of Rome
"The lettering for the map of Rome is based on Roman Square Capitals. Littered with antique, medieval sights, places made famous through films, it's seven hills, and Vatican City, Rome is one of the most 'dense' cities I've ever lettered out. As a result the map of Rome is visually the most intricate."
3) Map of San Francisco
"The lettering for San Francisco is inspired by wobbly 60s, hippie typography. The turquoise sea and terra rosa words make this map bright and friendly, reflecting the city's culture. I have it up on my wall opposite the kitchen table - I love it there as it brightens up the room and brings back great memories."
Explore Ursula's full map collection in her store, here >