Kevin Cannon’s illustrations — what he calls “cartoon cartography” — helped celebrate the openings of the METRO Green Line and the A Line.
After depicting these routes in pieces that appeared in The Star Tribune and commemorative posters, Metro Transit presented Cannon with even larger palette — a 40-foot bus that will travel to outreach activities across the Twin Cities. The bus features illustrations of recognizable landmarks — water towers, parks and school buildings – from communities where planned extensions of the METRO Green and Blue lines will run.
The bus also denotes the Green, Blue and Red lines, and the planned Orange Line, and includes large text inviting people to imagine the “Future of Twin Cities Transit.”
“I’m extremely excited that Metro Transit is branching farther out into the community, making the amenities of Minneapolis and St. Paul accessible to everyone,“ said Cannon.
“My hope is that people will get excited about how all the new routes will connect the Twin Cities and will inspire people to get out and explore. Hopefully my style and cartoon landmarks will catch peoples’ eyes as the bus passes and will encourage them to learn more about what Metro Transit has in the works over the next several years.”
The design was made in collaboration with Metro Transit’s Creative Services team. It debuted at the recent Pride Parade and will appear at dozens of community events through the end of the year. Metro Transit caught up with Cannon to talk about his work.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style is best described as “cartoon cartography.” I try to capture the essence of a building or place through caricature but I don’t sweat the details, like accurate size relationships or navigability. Anyone who tries to use my maps to get from point A to point B will probably get lost. I think I can get away with “creative accuracy” because I’m a cartoonist, and fortunately this freedom to warp spatial relationships allows me to draw maps to fit strange and unique shapes like, say, the side of a bus.
How did you get your start as an artist?
Drawing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of drawing with Mr. Sketch markers on scraps of foam core rescued from my uncle’s photography studio. My freelance life began in high school when various teachers and coaches hired me to draw sports T-shirts and academic posters (and by “hired” I mean I was paid in free T-shirts). I studied painting at Grinnell College in Iowa, then spent a few months going broke in Manhattan, and eventually settled back in Minneapolis where I’ve been freelancing ever since. Most of my current work involves illustrating children’s books, but my favorite projects involve drawing cartoon maps.
What inspired your vision for this bus?
Having lived briefly in New York City and London I know what it’s like to wake up and be able to jump on a train and go nearly anywhere you want and it’s fun to see the Twin Cities move in that direction. Since I come from a train family – my great-grandpa used to take steam engines across the Stone Arch bridge – I’m particularly excited about the proposed light rail routes.
See more of Kevin Cannon’s work at kevincannon.org. Construction activities on the Green Line Extension, running from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, are scheduled to begin late this year. Heavy construction on the Blue Line Extension, which will run from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, is scheduled to begin in 2019. The lines are scheduled to open in late 2021 and mid-2022, respectively.