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This artist turns New Orleans’ worst intersections into minimalist art prints

An interview with Peter Gorman of Barely Maps

Courtesy Peter Gorman

Peter Gorman’s sparse, rune-like renderings of New Orleans intersections show just how treacherous—and strangely beautiful—the city’s aging infrastructure can be.

Yesterday, the Hawaii-based artist dropped his “Intersections of New Orleans” map on Reddit, where it spawned a discussion with 100-plus comments and received a 99 percent upvote percentage.

Gorman created the designs of intersections in New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, and many other cities he visited during a yearlong, 11,000-mile bike trip that skimmed the perimeter of the U.S. and Canada.

“After the trip ended, I started designing minimalist maps based on the places I had visited,” Gorman said. “It was a side hobby for a few years. That all changed when I was living in Seattle.”

After he posted his Seattle map online, Gorman sold 600 prints and started getting map requests from people in other cities. Now he’s made maps of 75 cities. He sells the prints at his Etsy store and is compiling them in a book he will self-publish this December.

The prints allow viewers to see their city in a new way—and they also reveal facets of its past.

“You can get a sense of the city’s geography and how it was laid out,” Gorman said. “It’s tied into what the original founders conceived the city would be. It’s also interesting to look at the names of the streets, because that tells you a lot about the history of the city and who all has been there.”

Gorman visited New Orleans in January 2015, when he caught the Joan of Arc parade, toured cemeteries, and made friends.

“When I was making this map, it was fun to revisit those memories,” said Gorman.

To create his prints, Gorman relies on maps and his experiences navigating the intersections.

“I survey the map and see if any wacky intersections stick out,” he said. ”These intersections tend to give people a lot of frustration—when people commute every day, they have pain points throughout the city. Seeing them in this whimsical way is a new way to think about these intersections and the layout of the city.”