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Map Making on a Local Level

- Part 2 -


After sketches for the buildings and streets in the downtown business district were checked, I drew the entire image again in ink, adding paper as needed to squeeze in critical structures around the borders (ex: City Hall). The drawing grew to 20x18 inches.
Inked drawing
Then I scanned the ink drawing and began to add color. Color was layered in Photoshop. Street names were handwritten to fit, scanned, and added to the Photoshop document. Of course, thanks to Constant Progress, as I was finishing color in the digital world, back in the real world, building facades were being renovated, business names were changing, I had to keep up by redrawing those areas and adding them to the master map. Once I was satisfied with the image, I laid out the map document in InDesign, identified what went where on each soon-to-be folded panel, and had a full scale print made of the front and back of the map.
Visual aid for house calls

SHOW YOUR WORK. Having a life-size example made all the difference.

Now it was time to get out there and talk to the people and the organizations who would benefit most from this map. I'll be honest, it was a steep learning curve, but in just a few weeks, the reception went from "Why are you talking to me?" or "Why in the world are you doing a map?" to "When can I get my maps?"

DO YOUR MARKET RESEARCH. In this case it was getting honest feedback as we spoke to people (which I lovingly call the Constructive Criticism stage). I wanted to hear what was wrong with this map and the project overall. That would tell us how to proceed. "What do YOU need?" we would ask and I was delighted to hear from everyone.

GOOD DESIGN FULFILLS A PURPOSE. The most important feedback we received pertained to the support maps on the reverse that provided context for the illustrated map. The City-County map was doubled in size and the map showing the residential areas within walking distance of downtown was tripled in size. To do this, we had to remove advertising spaces. That translated into less revenue. Here's how I look at it: if the map isn't useful, it won't have value. We removed the ad spaces and kept rolling.

STAY OBJECTIVE. What I didn't expect was organizations wanting to apply their own brand and personal mission to the project. Very flattering but problematic. If this map was to be for everyone, it could not be identified with just one entity. These were not the easiest conversations for me to navigate but once people saw who was invested, it became clear how important it was for the map to be inclusive.
Shiny, happy maps ready for delivery

STAY COMMITTED. Today we continue to deliver printed maps to our advertisers, local attractions, and campuses. People are genuinely excited to see the city they love presented in a new way. It delights me to watch a resident discover something new by looking at the map.

We print at least twice a year with an annual distribution of up to 50,000 maps. Every year Macon's downtown gets more lofts, more residents, and new businesses open their doors. As long as this city grows, it will need a good map.

Revisions and additions continue. You can visit www.yourtownmap.com to submit a change, or to advertise on the next printing.


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