Dr Brian Dixon

Exploring the relationship between people, place and visual re-presentations

My name is Brian Dixon. I research, lecture and design.


Over the last number of years, the visual design of maps has become a strong focus in my work. In particular I focus on the development of mapping methods centring on the human experience of routes and rather than 'true' geographic referencing. Within such methods, the positioning of map symbols denotes the place a map-user can expect a feature to appear along a routeway as well as the orientation that the feature will be encountered at. (Please see the work section for further details.)

Where’s the Name From?

‘Light follows rivers/ I do too’. The lines are extracted from American beat writer Jack Kerouac’s ‘San Francisco Blues.’ I read that poem, or at least long sections of it, in 2006 and found its themes of travel and life and experience resonant.

My PhD

In my practice-based PhD, undertaken at Central Saint Martins, I investigated the visual design of GPS-enabled apps aimed at urban recreational walkers. Focus was directed towards the development of a visual design which allowed walkers to maintain an awareness of their surroundings as they wayfind. The final outcome is a protoype which references the directions of immediate features in the environment so that walkers can rapidly orientate themselves based on what they see around them. Other outcomes included a description of the prototype's visual structure, as well as an extension of information design theory.

A Glasgow Riverside Atlas

An in-progress project. Here, I'm aiming to develop a landmark-based map of central Glasgow, focusing on the river and the paths and sites which connect to it.

841mm x 594mm

South Leinster Way, Hiking Map

A hiking map, charting the South Leinster Way, an Irish walking route extending from Kildavin in Co.Carlow to Carrick on Suir in Co. Tipperary. The map is presented as one long linear strip, marked through kilometre sections measuring 2cm. Symbols are positioned as they’re encountered – on the left on the right, a river is crossed or followed. North’s orientation in relation to the path is offered at each kilometre section. Thus the path is represented as a process.

1200mm x 100mm

Thames Loop, Walking Map

A circular map, depicting a loop walk around the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge and back. The circular form reinforces the concept of return. Bridges are shown to link across the river. Guiding landmarks appear in black on the same bank and as yellow ghost impressions on the opposite bank.

500mm x 500mm

Dublin Adventure Way, part of Dublin's Science Gallery's HACK THE CITY

A1 Posters


This booklet was produced with the brilliant Clare Bell for IMRAM – an Irish language poetry festival. Set in Seria, it was an attempt to present Irish language typography both carefully and confidently, allowing the text to gain full impact.

210mm x 112mm

ATypI Maps

I was asked to produce a series of maps for the ATypI 2010 conference in Dublin. It was an enjoyable exercise. The main world map – showing speaker’s countries of origin – was composed of a multitude of tiny alpha-glyphs representing among other things: culture, language, climate, topography.

Concept Maps

A series of concept maps, with each isolating a particular subject. The first is a map of London’s junctions. The second is of Britain’s motorway network. The third is of London’s parks. With the final one listing Ireland’s islands by county in their relative position.


A Book About a Quarry

A small booklet telling the story of quarry site in Arklow Co.Wicklow. Through a compositon of watercolour illustrations, each double page spread presents a separate theme connecting the site with the locality in both contemporary and historical terms.

180mm x 150mm

Stockholm Map

I was commissioned by the hard working girls at Nectar & Pulse to produce a map for their first travel guide publication focusing on the city of Stockholm. Reflecting material packaging, a cardboard background was used to depict land. In keeping with the girl’s vision of playfulness and spontaneity, random images layer over the city.


T: @lightfollows

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