It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Melbourne or London; Boston or Brisbane. Look closely at Chaz Hutton’s deadly accurate A Map of Every City and you’ll immediately identify where you live, work and play, not to mention the places you avoid.
Yep, there’s the “Area that tourists love, but locals hate”. And over there, the “Area that everyone claims was ruined by the people who most recently moved there”.
Hutton is the Victorian-born, London-based artist behind the popular Insta-Chaz Instagram account, which represents slices of everyday life in the form of illustrations, graphs and diagrams, all line-drawn on Post-it notes.
Hutton posted the original version of A Map of Every City earlier this year. Although it wasn’t about one specific city, people from across the world jumped to claim it as their own.
Hutton recently expanded the map onto a larger canvas to allow for re-prints, which also allowed him to incorporate more areas.
“It’s less a map of a city, more a map of life experience,” he says by phone from London. “All those areas correspond to stuff that happens in people’s lives.” Hutton says it’s a study of gentrification, and it’s one that surely rings true in any of Australia’s major cities.
A meandering river (it must be the Yarra; but of course it’s the Parramatta; no, it’s the Swan) cuts through the map, which is divided into numbered areas labeled by descriptions rather than place names. It may have you humming Paul Kelly’s Every F*ing City as you attempt to identify each suburb (or are they arrondissements?).
Hutton grew up in Penshurst, in Victoria’s Western District, before spending 10 years studying and working in architecture in Melbourne. He moved to London around 18 months ago, because, “It seemed easier to have no ideas somewhere else” and continued to work in architecture. While chatting with a group of friends on WhatsApp during work hours, Hutton, often unable to respond immediately, would encapsulate the interactions with a doodle on a Post-it note and send it to the group later.
Impressed by the incisiveness and wit of the pictures, his friends urged Hutton to post them on Instagram, which he began doing in August 2015.
He now has almost 140,000 followers (the figure grew by 2000 during the writing of this story), and Hutton is releasing a book, A Sticky Note Guide to Life, on October 13 (available for pre-order here). Signing a book deal has meant Hutton can leave his career in architecture – at least for the time being.
Hutton’s humour has an observational, somewhat Seinfeld-esque bent. These are pictures about nothing and everything all at once. Check out his drawing Watching unexpected sex scenes in films. Insta-Chaz’s following spiked when Jessica Seinfeld (married to Jerry) reposted his chart comparing people’s eagerness for “Going out partying” versus “Getting up nice and early and going to the market” in relation to their age. Though Hutton cannot confirm that Jerry Seinfeld himself saw this and chuckled, he likes to think he did.
Hutton says he has become something of a “connoisseur of Post-it notes”. Interestingly, the paper of actual Post-it-brand sticky notes is too-high quality, and Hutton instead opts for a cheaper version on which ink doesn’t bleed.
“I’m A bit of an imposter when it comes to calling this stuff art,” he says. “There are people who are talented artists. I don’t consider myself one.” That said, a future gallery exhibition is not completely out of the question.
Until then, follow him at @Instachaaz.