Aerial Landscapes

Using satellite images to create art can help remind us of areas significant to us.

The ThoughtMatter office’s close proximity in Manhattan to Chelsea’s art galleries is one of the many benefits of working here. Another is that we are encouraged to seek inspiration and get out of the studio! In my first weeks with the company, one such field trip was to the Curator Gallery to see the photographs of Kacper Kowalski, and I have been hooked on aerial photography ever since.

For my Maker Studio Friday, we panned out a bit further, utilizing Google Earth and other satellite mapping sources. I asked everyone to bring an image that was personally significant or geographically interesting. I found that this step can lead you down a satellite image searching rabbit hole as you jump from the Florida Keys to Dubai to the Sahara Desert.

Using a ballpoint pen and a lot of pressure, we traced the outline of the geographical features onto black drawing paper. We then rubbed white charcoal over the surface of the paper, revealing black debossed lines. Finally, colored pencil, watercolor, ink or pastels were used to fill in the white spaces.

Our staff is from cities and countries all over the United States and Europe, and is a well-traveled group, so it was interesting to see the locations they selected for their pieces.

In the absence of horizon lines, landscape features become patterns. This combined with the different mediums and color choices affected the degree of abstraction, which made for diverse and striking end results.

As a non-artist myself, working with a team of talented artists on these creative endeavors can feel daunting. However, creating our own landscapes was a free form activity, not unlike doodling, that was perfect for a Friday afternoon. And there is no bad art — or at least that’s what my mom tells me.

This summer at ThoughtMatter, we’re ending every week with a “Maker Studio Friday” activity. During each session, a different studio member leads us through a hands–on activity that results in each of us having made something with our hands and minds. The activities help us keep our minds open, and pushes us to create better and more innovative work for our clients.


This post was written by ThoughtMatter Director of Operations Dana Bloder. ThoughtMatter is a creative branding, design and strategy studio in New York City’s Flatiron District.