Recent from the blog
May 31, 2012
Webstern and Boscawen are two small towns in the verdant countryside just north of Concord, New Hampshire. I got a call from a local rancher who wanted a cartoon map created to promote their horse ranch, along with other ranches in the vicinity. With all the town and city maps that I have drawn, it was nice to work on a "country map" for a change. This map illustrates that it's possible to take almost any chunk of real estate anywhere in the country and make it look entertaining. That's what cartoon maps are all about.
May 01, 2012
This was a special project for me because Sequim (pronounced Skwim) is actually my hometown. How this job came about is quite an amazing coincidence. The Sequim city council wanted to find a local person to draw their map, and they located an individual who lived in a nearby town. The town council had originally found my web site and wanted to hire me for the job, but since they were looking for someone who lived in the Sequim area, they opted not to call me. But they did make some screen shots of my maps to show to the illustrator they had hired. They wanted the illustrator to mimic my style. But the project proved to be too difficult a task for her. When she pulled out of the project, the town council felt they had no choice but to call me to get the job done, thinking that I lived somewhere across the country, a great distance away.
They were certainly stunned when I told them that I lived only two hours away, and that I was born and raised in Sequim. If they would have known that I was a Sequim boy in the first place, they surely would have called me first. It was a real treat to draw a cartoon map of my hometown. I would have never imagined that, of the many thousands of small towns across America, I would get a call from my hometown. What are the odds of that?
March 31, 2012
If you ever visit the Puget Sound region, find time to drive the length of one of America's loveliest and longest islands, Whidbey Island. You'll find it to be a delightful drive through verdant pastoral countryscapes and quaint small towns, with spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When we scouted Whidbey to map, we realized that the island is so long (America's fifth longest island) that it merits two maps. So we started with South Whidbey. If you visit South Whidbey Island, don't miss one of Washington's most quaint island towns, Langley. Coming soon: North Whidbey Island. We're in the selling phase of the project right now.
March 13, 2012
I thought that last year's Veolia Boston map was going to be a one-hit wonder. But Veolia contacted me again early this year with another map project, this time Philadelphia. This is one of a minority of maps on my web site that are drawn with no humor added. This demonstrates that I can draw straight maps as well. As you can see, the client did ask me to include some of the key buildings in Philadelphia. The most recognizable landmark that I drew: the steps that Sylvester Stallone ran up in his Rocky movie. That was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
My nephew, Justin, lives with his family in the Philadelphia area. Over the years I have hidden many things in my illustrations, so why stop now? I hid a "J", for Justin, somewhere in the Philadelphia map. Can you find it?
February 20, 2012
The famous resort town of Lake Placid, New York, has a little sister in Florida. Now the folks in Lake Placid, Florida have their own cartoon map. Lake Placid, Florida was named by Dr.Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System. When he arrived in Florida from Lake Placid, New York in 1925, he decided to settle down and build a resort on nearby Lake Stearns. The town council agreed to allow the name of Lake Stearns to be changed to Lake Placid. Dewey's resort on Lake Placid is still in operation to this day.
If you ever visit Lake Placid, make sure that you check out the murals around town. Lake Placid boasts 42 murals painted on building walls around town. If you're a flower aficionado, Lake Placid is also known as the Caladium Capital of the World.
January 14, 2012
Nolin Lake is one of the most challenging cartoon maps that I have ever drawn. There were numerous difficulties to work through, including a near impossible deadline. To begin with, we had to figure out how to make an unappealing lake look appealing. If you view Nolin Lake on Google Satellite, you'll see that there's not much to look at. From 25,000 feet, it looks more like a twisting overgrown river than a lake. That's because Nolin Lake is the result of the damming of the Nolin River in the hills of south central Kentucky. This created an elaborate, spidery lake system within the flooded serpentine mountain valleys.
To make the lake look more visually attractive, the client wanted to "balloon" it out so that it would look more like a regular lake. And she wanted to pull Highway 65, a considerable distance to the east, into the picture. Then, the town of Leitchfield, more than a few miles to the north, needed to be included on the map. Then, why not throw in Mammoth Cave National Park, several miles to the south.
As a result of all the squishing and squashing, the above lake bears little or no resemblance to the actual lake that you see on Google Maps, and there's only minimal accuracy to the map. Mileage distances are grossly exaggerated. Having said that, you can actually navigate around the area using this map because the highways do lead to where they're supposed to. Every campground and roadside market was carefully placed in its appropriate spot within the exaggerated image. On top of all that, there needed to be considerable detail, numerous map icons, cartoons and logos within the lake area to make the map useful and informative...all within an 11 x 17 inch area.
That was the challenge we faced. Somehow we managed to pull it off to the satisfaction of the client, all within one of the tightest deadline constraints that I've ever faced. The Christmas and New Years holiday was largely spent "at Nolin Lake". This is a good time to thank my lovely wife and assistant for the many hours that she tirelessly devoted to this map. She's the one who designs all the ads on our maps. We literally worked shoulder-to-shoulder for many weeks to deliver this map on schedule. Thank you, Jacquie.
Client comments: "Thank you both for making this an awesome map. Looks so beautiful!"
December 12, 2011
This was a drop-what-you're-doing assignment. I got a call from the president of a corporation in Aguascalientes, Mexico on November 10. He wanted a cartoon map of Aguascalientes ("hot waters" in Spanish) as a Christmas present for 125 company clients scattered all over North America. The map needed to be turned around in two weeks so that he would have time to get the map printed, framed, packed and shipped to his clients before Christmas. I turned this map around in 37 hours. That might be a record for an 11 x 17 map. I was happy that they were delighted with the results.
November 30, 2011
Looking for great eats in L.A.? You've come to the right place! Check out our new Los Angeles Foodie's Guide. It features many of the best hole-in-the-wall joints and ethnic eateries around Los Angeles. In addition to what you see above, I also drew a similar map for Downtown Los Angeles and a map for the Valley. All three maps are contained on the two-sided foldup map with listings of the eateries and descriptive text. All of the listings were taste-tested by our crack team of foodie experts in Los Angeles.
October 26, 2011
Over the years I've gotten numerous map inquiries from Austin, Texas...people who want to get into the cartoon map business with us. Over a period of several years all of the inquiries fizzled out. Then I got a call from a guy who wanted to work with me on a North Austin map. But sure enough, after a few weeks he disappeared without a trace. I get more map inquiries from Texas...and Florida...than from anywhere else in North America.
The other day I got yet another inquiry from Austin. This one was for a cartoon wedding map. And, as you can see, this one panned out...my first Austin map. I had never heard of wedding maps until my web site went to the top of the Google page ranking. Then I started getting a steady stream of calls for wedding maps. I've gotten reports that they're a big hit at the wedding. That makes it worth all of the effort that goes into them.
October 13, 2011
I especially enjoy putting little "out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere" towns " on the map". Such a town is Carstairs, located 45 minutes north of Calgary, Alberta, on the Candian prairie. The Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park loom on Carstairs' western horizon. I decided to try something new on this map, a "fish-eye" perspective, where the vanishing point is in the middle of the page. I will probably use this approach on future maps.
Using Google Streetview is very helpful with many of my cartoon maps because it allows me to travel to the area I'm mapping without hopping on a plane. I can "cruise" down the streets, observe the buildings and terrain, thereby bringing more authenticity and accuracy to the map. Through Google Satellite and Streetview, I'm able to "be there" in a virtual sense.
October 09, 2011
The next map in our series of Los Angeles suburb maps is the coastal town of Corona del Mar, located just south of Newport Beach. This is one of the small upscale communities situated along Pacific Coast Highway south of Los Angeles, one of the newest maps marketed by our crack sales guys in Los Angeles. Corona del Mar State Beach is a popular surfing destination. Just up from Corona del Mar State Beach is "the Wedge", one of Southern California's top surfing spots. Kayaking and paddleboarding is popular in nearby Newport Bay.
August 03, 2011
This is probably the most minutely detailed cartoon map that I have ever drawn. It was truly a drawing and painting marathon to finish on deadline. To make matters worse, it was a tight deadline. To make matters worse yet, it wasn't practical to draw the map on paper. I had to draw the entire map on my Wacom Cintiq screen. The Wacom is a computer screen that allows you to draw and paint directly on the screen, eliminating the need for paper. I much prefer to draw my maps on paper, then scan them into the computer, where I color them with my Wacom in Photoshop. This map easily made my "Most Memorable Map" list. Sidebar: The open space on the right will contain text.
July 21, 2011
This is a "vicinity map" of a neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We often get requests for a simple map that directs the public to a business or event so that they can be located within a large area. This is such a map. High Plains Helping Hands Food Pantry is a ministry of Mountain Springs Church, which is located next to the food pantry. I hope this map will be helpful to those in the Colorado Springs area who are in need of a helping hand.
May 22, 2011
This is yet another map from our crack sales team in Los Angeles. The Richard Nixon Library was going to advertise on the map and carry them in their store, but they took one look at my scowling rendition of President Nixon, and the deal was off. You'll find President Nixon's boyhood home on the grounds of the Nixon Library. His father ordered the house from a catalog and built it where it still stands today.
April 01, 2011
I attended art school (The Art Center College of Design) in Los Angeles, and lived there for 11 years but I didn't know Newport Beach like I do now. You learn a lot about a town, even without personally visiting it, when you research and draw a cartoon map of the area. Aside from being noted as one of America's richest cities, Newport Beach is also known as a mecca for surfers because of its famous surf spot, the Wedge, located south of town at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula . It was also the home of renowned actor John Wayne. I located his home on the map.
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