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. In 2019 the Orbigraphia website was launched.

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”.