Mikael Asikainen is a Finnish cartographer and map-artist with a bachelor’s degree in Geography

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in maps. I’ve also always liked to adapt what I see in maps and atlases to create maps of my own imaginary places.

I drew my first fictional maps when I was eight years old. I have continued that as a hobby ever since, always trying for as realistic places as possible. My interest in geography led me to study it at university. I finished my Bachelor’s in 2016, and I’m currently writing my master’s thesis about shortcuts.

A turning point came in 2017, when I realised drawing maps is something I’d like to do for a living. I created the Orbigraphia Instagram account and started using better pens, trying new styles and testing how to make my maps look more realistic, detailed and professional. I started working as a self-employed mapmaker in October 2019.

I have a lot of experience from digital cartography, but I’ve always drawn fictional maps by hand. There’s a special feel to maps made with ink on paper. I’ve always liked maps of all styles and scales, and as a mapmaker I also want to be able to draw maps of all kinds – of different kinds of places, both fictional and real.

Photo of Mikael Asikainen by lake Vanajavesi in Hämeenlinna
Photograph by Milka Asikainen

The word Orbigraphia is a combination of two latin words – orbis (circle, sphere, the world) and graphia (art, technique, field of study). Put together, orbigraphia can be translated as “a study of circles”, or “the art of making worlds”.