Popularized by Esri’s inclusion of Map Galleries in their User Conferences, being able to share one’s cartographic work in an artistic sense can foster positive outlooks by individuals working with mapping software. Map galleries can appeal to all skill sets, from GIS professionals to students who are first approaching geography and geospatial information systems. Promoting maps as an artistic format conceptualizes geodata with a multi-faceted complexity that isn’t present through basic spreadsheets of information.
While Esri provides the opportunity for those who can travel, localized versions of these galleries are rare occurrences. If organizations and educational institutions wish to encourage this kind of approach to GIS, creating a physical or digital space to display this type of work is essential. Providing frequent opportunities to submit geographic work not only allows for individual recognition, but an increased accessibility to geographic data that those not working with GIS would otherwise be unfamiliar with. The greater number of employees or students knowing this information greatly increases the potential for others to utilize this data. Essentially, this creates multiple ways to analyze relevant information, allowing for more unique takes on data sets than one person could provide.
Leveling the knowledge of data through galleries also provides those working with GIS the invaluable opportunity to see how others perceive and utilize the cartography they’ve provided. For professionals, they can receive responses and critiques that will allow them to better serve their audiences. For students, it gives an open avenue of critiques from their peers, building new skills and incorporating new knowledge into future GIS projects.
Fostering artistic expression through GIS design could prove to be a future asset for the field, if executed well and on a local scale.