The Painted Atlas

by Denise Elnajjar

The Painted Atlas, by artist and illustrator Denise Elnajjar, is a project that celebrates beauty in every corner of the world. It began as a wish by Denise to paint something beautiful for every country, as a way to armchair travel the world through art. In 2021, Denise entered this idea to a contest on Vocal Media, also judged by membership software program Memberful. Made possible by this, Denise spent 15 months researching, choosing locations and imagery, and conceptualizing hundreds of drafts, which she will now be painting. The Painted Atlas officially launched in January 2023.

The images in The Painted Atlas are centered on architecture, nature, culture, and design. Because beauty can be found everywhere, these paintings and illustrations will include simple scenes, as well as things more complex and ornate; they will include the colorful, and everyday life. As a collection, it is the hope of The Painted Atlas to curate scenes and imagery that can be appreciated by the local or the traveler. The project aims to bring people together in a time when there is so much dividing us. The project also aims to break some stereotypes along the way. Every single country is included, as well as so much more (including states, regions, and territories).

For members who join, every week there will be a new entry on The Painted Atlas, for that midweek escape. You’ll know of new posts via email! People who would enjoy the content of this project include lovers of geography, travel, architecture, design, illustration and art, and most of all– the curious. If you wish you could visit each and every country but maybe can’t right now (or ever!), join to view the world vicariously through art. Join to see when your country is next!

A portion of subscription proceeds will be donated towards efforts to clean plastic from the oceans. Since so many of the locations that will be featured in The Painted Atlas are coastal, these donations will be made in effort to keep our oceans beautiful. The Painted Atlas will also be publishing free monthly articles on Vocal Media to celebrate and provide supplemental content. Select prints will be available on Denise’s shop on Society 6!

About Denise

Denise is a fashion and lifestyle illustrator, and artist.

In 2019, Denise illustrated for ECCO’s campaign and product launches. She represented the brand at live illustration events across the United States, drawing in New York, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Miami, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County, California. Her works have been featured on the social media channels of global brands including Moschino, L’Oréal, Roberto Cavalli, Kate Spade, and Giambattista Valli. Denise has illustrated at live fashion shows during New York Fashion Week and Fashion Forward Dubai; clients have included Vogue Japan and Cosmo. Her work has also appeared in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. She has worked with luxury and beauty brands, publications, festivals, and hotels located in NY, Canada, London, France, Australia, Lebanon, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, among others. Her illustrations have appeared on billboards in Times Square.

Denise has worked live sketching events including corporate parties, birthdays, bridal and weddings, and shopping events. You can find select prints available with Oliver Gal Art, including her prints for Marrakech and Ibiza. Denise’s print shop is also available on Society6.

As a child Denise enjoyed drawing, writing, and learning about geography through a vintage atlas from the 1940s, a wall map, and a stamp collection. She studied global affairs and worked in evaluating J-1 visa applications, prior to beginning work as a freelancing illustrator. Denise is self-taught and uses acrylic, gouache, and watercolor. Before work began on The Painted Atlas, the inspiration behind it was years in the making. The list to draw beautiful places around the world kept getting bigger until the events of 2020-early 2021, when she decided to do each and every country, as a way to visit them and see the world.