A Rise Art Q&A with Ursula Hitz
Posted by Rise Art on 11th November 2015
Since moving to London a decade ago, Ursula has been creating meticulous maps of different cities using their place names.
Hitz explains, "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 way that most cities have grown."
Who are you and what do you do?â¨
Hi I am Ursula and I'm originally from Switzerland and have a background in Graphic Design. In 2008 I studied for a masters in Graphic Design at the LLC. I've now lived and worked in London for over a decade.
As a graphic designer one is always constrained by a client's brief and strict deadlines. For me making art means exploring subjects I find fascinating and translating them into a new visual form without any constraints.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I grew up on a dairy farm in a rural Swiss village and know how to make cheese!
How did you get into art? Is it necessary to go to art school?
As a child I loved drawing and painting. After doing a foundation at 16 I applied with my friend for a graphic design course, and we got in! At the time I wasn't sure what Graphic Design was but it was the only course available to me. Without this formal background in visual communication I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to eventually start making my own work. I think every artist's journey is unique and art school is only one of many pathways.
How would you describe your pieces in 3 words?
Intricate, meaningful and textural.
What are your favourite materials to use - or what materials do you find challenging or produce results which surprised you?
Hmm difficult question! I try to find the most appropriate material and scale for each of my artworks. My city maps are all screen printed. I love the way screen printing produces very vibrant colours and sharp contours which works very well for typographic pieces, but I love pencil drawings and water colour and admire works in all kinds of materials.
On average, how long does it take to complete a piece?
It usually takes about a month to create a city map. Other pieces vary greatly as it sometimes involves research and experimenting with different methods. Often projects can be abandoned half way through the process due to the above reasons.
Who are your 3 favourite artists or influencers?
When I started making typographic maps I was inspired by Nate Williams' hand lettering. Recently I purchased a first piece of art, a lithograph by Adam Dant, I love the way he portrays London and its inhabitants in so much detail with a poetic feel. I am also am in awe of Malika Favre's minimal, vibrant graphic illustrations.
What is your thought process behind your typographic maps?
When I work on a typographic map I start by drawing out an alphabet or a mix of letter shapes that relate to the portrayed city's cultural historical background. Then I assemble the words and re-shape them on screen to cover specific areas.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I am always really touched when I receive an enthusiastic emails from customers. Recently at an opening a visitor approached me, who found the name of the council estate he grew up on, in the top left corner of the Greater London map. He was so excited to see this relatively obscure place had been included together with the most iconic places in London!
Who would be your ideal client to commission a piece?
Ideally it would be a public body or organisation. I would love to do wall murals; maybe in a train station or create a large scale map for a public square for people to walk on!
What is your dream project?
I would love to go to Tokyo and create a city map whilst staying there 'on site'.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I think it wasn't one piece of advice, but just the continuous positive response and encouragement from friends and family.