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The accidental cartographer

I have always loved maps. During my childhood summers in Canada I collected illustrated maps of major North American cities, meticulously hand-drawn and painted by the aptly named company Unique Media. Somewhere stashed away in my cupboards are aerial depictions of Toronto, Vancouver, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with more general maps of the US and Canada. Unique Media also did a fabulous world map, which graced the wall of my bedroom in the days before Plus Ultra.

Early last week I discovered They Draw And Travel (TDAT), headed by brother-and-sister design team Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell. It all started with the website They Draw and Cook, from which a book has been published with a collection of over 100 recipes illustrated by artists from around the world. TDAT works in a similar vein – artists are free to submit creative maps of their favourite places, with an emphasis on locales that aren’t necessarily covered in the guidebooks.

I have been working (rather obsessively) on a personal submission in my free time, and I’m happy to say that it’s now been uploaded to the TDAT website! This is a tribute to one of my favourite parts of Hong Kong, and I would encourage readers to visit this lesser-known area if you ever find yourselves in my hometown. A larger version of the map can be seen here on TDAT or by clicking the image below. At least two more maps are in the pipeline, so stay tuned over the coming weeks and months!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow, this is cool! 🙂

    November 22, 2012
    • Thanks Joycelyn! 🙂

      November 23, 2012
  2. These maps look so inviting!

    November 22, 2012
    • I’m thrilled at the way it turned out – a lot of it just came together by itself!

      November 23, 2012
  3. I hope the guys at any tourism board see this and hire you to draw their countries/places as part of the promotion.

    November 22, 2012
    • I hope so too Bama, would be good to put the illustrations to good use… and get a bit of extra income on the side!

      November 23, 2012
  4. wow this is great! I can stare at maps for hours – especially if they are illustrated like this one! great job!

    November 23, 2012
    • Thanks Amira! The credit has to go to TDAT for inspiring me to draw this map. 🙂

      November 23, 2012
  5. Looks great! And really original in comparison to most maps.

    November 23, 2012
    • Glad you enjoyed it, Sofie! I have another one planned for the next two weeks.

      November 24, 2012
  6. That is so amazing James! Do you use some software, or is it hand drawn? Love the meticulous illustrations. Very impressed, really!
    And hope this brings some much deserved recognition your way 🙂

    November 25, 2012
    • Thank you, Madhu! It was a mix of the two – much of it was done in Photoshop but the illustrations were all done by hand. They started out as line drawings before being scanned and coloured on computer. I suppose the architecture grad in me has to find expression every now and again! 🙂

      November 25, 2012
  7. QQ #

    Interesting hobby you have there.

    November 25, 2012
    • You should check out the TDAT website, they have some great maps on New York!

      November 26, 2012
      • QQ #

        I will when I get back in front of a computer. On my iPhone on vaca right now. 🙂

        November 26, 2012
  8. Congratulations James! As one map-lover to another, you’ll know how I appreciate your map’s geographic accuracy coupled with the ‘artistic’ flourishes (I particularly like the character etching for the land) and the tourist information. It’s great, and I do hope it will lead to even greater things for you 🙂

    December 7, 2012
    • Thank you Meredith! I almost included a north arrow and scale bar… sadly the text needed a lot more space than previously thought! I’ve been toiling away at a second map of Hong Kong, this time focused on a particular section of the city (it explains the recent lack of posts on the blog!). I will upload that too, when it’s finished. 🙂

      December 7, 2012
  9. Reblogged this on Pocketful of Sunshine and commented:
    Maps are awesome!! I love vintage maps, hand-drawn maps, and metro maps. I collected city maps in Europe!

    December 10, 2012

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