Thanks to a tweet from Tom Uglow, I happened across these wonderful watercolour maps from Stamen design. I've long been a fan of Stamen's visualisation work. They were one of FastCompany's 50 most innovative companies last year and have done some great work with MTV, MSNBC, BMW, Digg and LOCOG which I'm a fan of. But their work exploring cartography is particularly special (checkout the rather lovely Pretty Maps project as well). The watercolor maps "apply raster effect area washes and organic edges over a paper texture" in a process that reads like an artist describing how they created an original work of art. No surprise then, that the result is artful, organic and beautiful and has brought a very human warmth to something that is commonly treated in such a functional way. Truly exceptional.