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Dan Landau

papercutting, pen & ink drawing on a paper road map
19″ x 13″


Annie Irwin, Painter, Weaver, Textiles Artist

Annie Irwin
Weaver, Painter, Textile Artist

Artist Statement
“This is the first in my ‘Fatherhood’ series, an ongoing collection of work reflecting what it is like to be a parent. In this piece, I wanted to capture the feeling of wondrous potential—the whole world is out that window for her to discover and all things are possible.

Working with road maps, I make ink drawings on them and then use a craft knife to carefully cut away the empty spaces around the drawing and the roads. I draw on maps because for me, maps are symbols of connection and exploration. Roads take us places and connect us with others.”

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Video Transcript

“I love how graphically accomplished this piece is. I think you’ve done something really unique with the way that you’re layering materials, to get something that plays with the idea of line quality and shape quality, from the heavy Sharpie underneath to the finer lines, to the finer connecting piece that sits on top of the map, and then you’re playing with the open space of the window.

I think you’re creating a very engaging composition, and an engaging idea of what the canvas is as to what the outside world is and how those two play together. I also love that you are, playing with cutting and different ways of applying work making I think that’s fantastic. I

would watch where the window, comes through in the composition, there’s these organic lines that are moving and really moving your eye around and then you have the edge of the window pane and that comes off as a little sharp to me, but otherwise I think it’s a wonderful job and I encourage you to keep playing with this really cool technique.”

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11 responses on "Dan Landau"

  1. Hi all, thanks so much for your kind and constructive comments! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on my drawing.

    Some of you noted that I might consider using maps that have more connection to the subject. So far, I’ve mostly been choosing maps based on availability and aesthetics. If I choose maps that have more connection to the subject, how would anyone know? I could draw draw this on a map of my hometown, but people would have to know me personally to know that the map had a meaning and I wonder what the value in that would be?

    Thanks again for featuring my work here and taking the time to comment on it!

    • Hi Dan! This is the challenge! How to visually communicate the connection between the map and yourself, the path is not obvious, but that’s exactly why it would be a terrific creative challenge for you to tackle. I think if you take this idea and work with it for a long time, and do tons and tons of sketching brainstorming your work can evolve a lot! I find that often times ideas that seem impossible at first often times reveal many more options if I’m willing to stick with the idea and goal on a long term basis.

      There are many ways that you could visually show your personal connection to a specific map. One option would be to choose a specific gesture or action in the figure that is related somehow to the map. For example, if the map was a state park, you could have the figure doing activities related to the state park. Or if the map is too small to be legible, maybe you blow up the map images in a color xerox machine and then integrate it with the figures in another way.

      Would love to see you pursue this, it’s challenging, but that’s also what makes this brim with possibilities!

      • Hi Clara, thanks for the additional feedback. I have a better idea of what you mean and I will definitely give it some though and see how I can implement your suggestions. I think this new piece ( is a step in that direction — working from video stills, I drew my daughter’s first steps onto a map of United’s international flight routes.

        • Wow Dan this new piece of your daughter is GREAT! I think this is definitely a leap forward in your thinking! Love the idea of using video stills as a reference, and the overlaying her image on top of the international flights maps definitely has a specificity to the narrative that wasn’t present in the piece we critiqued. Really exciting, keep going!!!

          • Thank you Clara! I looked at the dates when I made the fatherhood piece in the video compared to the first steps piece — almost exactly a year in between these pieces. It’s nice to see the progress I’ve made over time. Thanks for all the feedback!

    • This is a good question. I would look at how other artists, authors, and musicians connect place with their work. Sufjan Stevens uses places and maps and specific imagery to flesh out his personal narratives. Ed Pien makes complex cutouts that touch on cultural and environmental displacement inspired by his experience as a Taiwanese immigrant living in urban Canada.

      Your creations might no longer look like what you’re doing now. You might create a new type of map altogether. Or you might find that your personal relationship with places aren’t important to the work at all. It’s all up to you!

  2. Your technique is of course amazing! The cleanliness of all of your cut lines and hard edges is very satisfying to look at. Whenever I see a window, I always think about the potential for layering and transparencies. You could try experimenting on frosted Mylar which layers and cuts well, and will take about any medium. I’d also love to see you experiment with different kinds of maps. Maps are symbols of connection, but they’re also stores of information. Similar to Professor Lieu’s point, how could you tie your image to your maps? In what new ways could you integrate them?

  3. What an incredible demonstration of your technical skill with paper cutting! You’re very successful in creating a seamlessness between the actual map and the imagery of the father, child and window. I agree with Casey when he talks about pushing the element of the window further. Right now, I’m craving to see what’s beyond those window panes, even if its just a little hint! The blankness isn’t fully conveying “endless possibilities” for me. What’s another way you can represent the endless possibilities of the future? It’s an exciting area in the piece to continue thinking about! Great work!

  4. Your cutting technique is really incredible, I can’t imagine how tedious and time consuming it must be to create work that looks this seamless! The ink that you’ve painted over the maps is also very effectively integrated into the map, at first glance as a viewer, you really do believe that the image of the father and child really were in the map to begin with. I’d like to see a more prominent visual connection between the choice of the map you’re cutting up and the theme of fatherhood. Right now, the map that has been chosen appears to be random, is there a way to perhaps connect the choice of the map to fatherhood? For example, what if the map represented the distances the child was capable of traveling at that point in their lives? I remember the first day that my oldest child walked around the block for the first time, it was such a big milestone as a parent, and I recall that moment as realizing that her world had just expanded exponentially! Or maybe the map is of an area you frequent with your child? Possibilities are endless! Something to consider for your future pieces.

  5. Very exciting mixed media piece! The compositional element of the window is really compelling, and presents another opportunity to push that layering even further, I think… Your graphic drawing style and the visual language of the map work really well as cut-outs, and I wonder if there’s another element you can incorporate just as seamlessly? It might end up being too much, but you won’t know until you try!

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