About the award

This award recognizes imaginative cartography. Cartography is often seen by the public as work opposed to imagination, grounded entirely in established fact. While this devotion to reflecting what is forms the heart of cartographic thinking, cartographers and artists who use maps as a basis for their work can (and do) take that grounding in fact and use it to venture into the world of the possible. Some explore real places from perspectives that allow us to see it fresh and full of possibility, and some take our established traditions of mapmaking, and indeed take fully-constructed maps themselves, and turn them on their heads to make us see ourselves anew.

This award is to recognize this work and the perspective it brings to the field of cartography, and the contributions it makes to the world as a whole. It is awarded to a person or group of people and their overall body of work, not for a particular piece of work.

Who is Corlis Benefideo?

Mr. Benefideo is a fictional cartographer, the central character in Barry Lopez’s short story, “The Mappist,” which is printed in his short story collection Light Action in the CaribbeanIn the story, Lopez articulates a humane vision of cartography. Benefideo says to the story’s narrator, “The world is a miracle, unfolding in the pitch dark. We’re lighting candles. Those maps—they are my candles.” We can’t think of a better way to express our sense of what we want imaginative, forward-leaning cartography to be. We’ve adopted his name for our award with Mr Lopez’s blessing. (Barry Lopez Foundation, Wikipedia)

Nominations are open until July 1, 2024.

Nominate a Recipient

Guidelines for nomination

The following information should be provided upon nomination:

  • Name and contact information for the person being nominated
  • Examples of the nominee’s work which you think exemplify why they deserve this award. If possible please include either links to their work, or attach (small) images or PDFs of their work.
  • A sentence or two about how this work inspires you.
  • [Optional] Your own name and contact information, if you would be willing for us to contact you with follow-up questions.

Nominations are accepted from all sources, whether or not the nominator is a NACIS member.

Judging considerations

The potential of their work to transform our ways of seeing and understanding our world, and to trigger imaginative reaction from its audience. Does the nominee’s work give humanity a new tool with which to see the world more clearly and/or to improve the human or global condition? How so? Does the nominee’s work cartographically break new ground?

Their relationship to cartography as a discipline and tradition of graphic communication. How does the nominee’s work engage with cartographic methods and theory? Does the nominee’s work engage cartography with fields, communities or issues with which it hasn’t previously been associated?

The quality of the creator’s work, both within the creative sphere in which they work and in relation to mainstream cartographic values of consistency, accuracy, completeness and clarity. Is the nominee’s approach to the work rigorous and bound to a high level of quality, however that may be defined? Is the work likely to remain relevant and thought-provoking for the long-term? Has the nominee demonstrated a body of work that has developed over time?