Amazing Hand Cut Map Art

Amazing Hand Cut Map Art

Karen O’Leary is famous for creating hand cut paper maps of popular cities.

Careful elimination of unnecessary parts results in a beautiful artwork with the sharp contrast between the solid and void.











San Francisco

San Francisco



New Orleans

New Orleans





Also check out: Google Maps Envelopes and Matchsticks Globe

  1. Eric

    This guy must have a lot of patience.

  2. Noni

    This is soo amazing!

  3. kcantu

    holly, THAT IS PATIENCE.

  4. jumanicus

    total mind bogglingness :0

  5. hamid

    great idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. hersheylover

    that is cool but hard to use

  7. BBQ

    It’s very beautiful!

  8. Reckybuh

    Remind me never to go on the Amazing Race with this guy…

  9. Pajadox

    Well European cities had to be pretty harder American ones.

  10. Art of Concept

    I can’t believe we all thought about the same thing…patience! Outstanding patience, but heck look at the results!

  11. Lee

    Why spend hours doing this by hand when you can achieve far more complex designs in literally minutes by using a plotter? (Plotter as used in the sign writting industry)

  12. Cory

    wow, interesting to see how boring the american cities look

  13. no way

    this is done with laser way with hand

  14. mea

    it’s amazing

  15. AD

    Misleading title.

    Well, obviously, he used a hobby knife to cut it and not his hand.

  16. Sarah

    Wow! I especially love Sydney!=)

  17. cerulean

    I love how people are assuming that it’s a guy that did these. I don’t know many guys named “Karen”.

  18. Stuart Halliday

    Reminds me of those ancient Chinese cravings of bone.


  19. Poris

    I’ve made such a thing for a class using a cnc laser cutter.
    Took 20 minutes.

  20. 2HIt6

    It must be hard to navigate in USA.. with grid like streets.. i mean its good for planning but.. every street will seem.. very similar to the next (in terms of road wise)….><

  21. Mia Lazar

    Nice, cool idea, buth somone mention CNC …

  22. Roberto

    great! but…. where is the paper map of Morelia Mich. Mexico??????????? jeje …. ciao

  23. Hamzilla

    He should do a time laps of him cutting it out! Haha

  24. Raads

    @ Cory LOL! thats is so true
    @ cerulean hahaha! thats exactley what i was thinking!
    well there’s nothing else to say, cuz everyone else took what i was gonna say :D

  25. jason

    “that is cool but hard to use”

    So do you honestly think this is sold at your local gas station? WTF are you talking about?!! It’s hanging on a wall you idiot, not sitting in your trunk.

  26. ALP


  27. raymond simandjuntak

    wow !!! this is awesome.. if i doin that, the paper must be ended in the trash bin.. ahahaha..

  28. nikki

    for all of you saying this could be easily done with a plotter, likewise, a hand painting can be easily digitally reproduced but the beauty is in the time that went into each brush stroke! and the fact that you have an original piece of art

    this takes amazing talent and i am throughly impressed with HER (note that its not a “he” as many of you said) talent!

  29. Raoz

    Very impressive… However what makes a person do that, I mean that takes a lot of times and patience…

  30. Jooj

    love it !

  31. B3N

    i’ve never seen before, it’s high artistic

  32. Quinn

    I think the real beauty of this is that he had the paitence to cut it out by hand (most likely with an x-acto, which yes, IS considered “by hand” because you USE YOUR HANDS) rather than taking the easy way out and allowing technology to do the work for you.
    That, my friends, is art.

  33. Comatoast

    Seriously I admire the patience. However in we are a digital world now and what you cut out of paper is super artistic…… Wait I can’t stop thinking is kids saying he did what? It is imperfect! We can do better in mins. Let us build on that! I would hang it on my wall though.

  34. easy peasy

    don’t know why people find this so impressive. Get an exacto knife and trace out a map on some paper = voila! Grade 2 art class.

  35. dull

    How dull this bloke must be. Nothing special.

  36. Lili Fugit

    Why does everyone assume a GUY did this? It’s a woman!

    And it’s pretty awesome. These would look great on a black background.

  37. Ciel

    I think it’s great – you don’t normally see the patterns in a map when all the details are printed on, but this makes you look at a map in a totally different way!

    It’s interesting to see that the US cities are primarily in a grid pattern. It would be interesting to do one of a city in the UK (not London!) as I think it would look fairly random.

  38. Rob

    As pieces of art I think they are fascinating. Manhatten is my favourite.

  39. alice

    the real fun here is when you put one of these on a sunbather’s back and turn off their alarm clock…

  40. Barb

    I now have one of my very own made by Karen! It is a map of our town! It is very unique and fun to see how exact the streets and rivers run! It is so Amazing! Thanks Karen!

  41. sachi

    Any plans for… Tokyo?

  42. Alex

    Corey: “wow, interesting to see how boring the american cities look”

    I think perhaps the American cities were simply planned out better (and certainly more organized) thanks to being developed in the modern era. A city in Italy based on a thousand year old design is bound to be much less refined. In addition, European cities appear to have several epicenters around landmarks that eventually connected in a jumble of streets.

  43. Christian

    london looks intense

  44. Craig Moyer

    These are pretty cool (because she did them by hand), but theyre just figure-ground drawings. Nothing too special, you do many of these the first few months of planning school.

  45. Mack

    Impressive, but completely sad in every way that anyone would spend the time to make them. Bravo, you made a bunch of useless fragile pieces of paper that probably took days to make. Why not put that much energy into something useful?

  46. Apolonio Mai

    This guy must be a monk.

    From Belize Central America

  47. Anna K

    Wow! I am ipressed! Such a hard work to do! Well done!

  48. jack

    how can i get one?

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