Skip to main content

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.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commissions are interesting endeavors. A bespoke painting often means an artist is asked to create something quite different from their regular body of work. It pushes us a bit outside ourselves. Without fail I find it refreshing and deeply rewarding. Some artists specialize in pet portraits. I enjoy doing figure studies and portraits of people but until now I had not painted anyone's pet. "Gizmo" is the Maltese-Yorkie companion of Katie Ruth Williams. And like many diminutive creatures, his personality can barely be contained. This bite-sized Napoleon strives to rule the household. I can't say how successful he is at that but I do know Gizmo is loved. Such a subject deserves a portrait. I wanted Gizmo's likeness to be larger than life—more than double his size—and grand as an Elvis on velvet. Thanks to snapshots by his adoring family, I had plenty of references from which to work. This piece was pure joy. I look forward to many others. "Gizmo&
"Practice makes better" is what we tell the five-year-old. When the child is older, I will explain (and repeat) the 10,000-hours-towards-mastery concept. I don't believe in Perfection. Mastery allows for experimentation to continue and recognizes two important things: the time one must invest in order to improve and that failure is a necessary part of achieving success. Portrait painting has been the most difficult thing I've attempted. It's positively baffling to me. I can't work from one photo. Working from life is ideal, but my current subject (my grandmother) is no longer living. A wall of photos of a person from different angles, different decades (like I'm some sort of stalker) is better for me simply because a single photo rarely captures a personality.* I believe a painting of someone can express who a person truly is by combining impressions from many, many moments. *Of course there are master photographers who CAN capture the essence of
A New Portrait Ever since my grandmother Frances passed away I have been thinking about her portrait. I knew I would do one at some point when I felt ready. Ready in this instance means that she stopped appearing in my dreams. It has been a year since I've seen her while I've slept. People look different in heaven. It skews my ability to represent them as they were before. I'm not trying to weird you out, it's simply how it is with me. It is impossible to show how I go about this portrait without revealing quite a bit about Frances, and of course, myself as well.  Tant pis.  We'll try to bear it. I will post photographs at the end of a painting session to show progress with some mention of the decisions made along the way. It is my hope to demonstrate the mental exercises an artist goes through, a few practical techniques of putting paint down, but most of all, the amount of time it takes to create something in paint. I chose my panel back in the summer. I