Illustrated Maps

all images, c. Kevin Sprouls

In my long career, I’ve often enjoyed creating illustrated maps for various clients. Map-making is cool because it incorporates graphical information with pictorial represention and typography. I rather like hand-lettering, so cartography is a perfect medium for me.

Above, a cruise-ship route map. Depicting the land contours was most challenging.

Here, a map that I did for American Airlines, showing flight options for travelers going to England. I produced all but the type in this example.

Here we have a historical map of Washington, D.C., commissioned for a schoolbook. I was trying for an antique, parchment effect to express an antiquated look. The hand-lettering also helps lend this map a dated appearance.

A map showing the Mendoza wine-region of Argentina…

Above, a map depicting various destinations on the African continent. This may have been for British Airways.

Here, a black-and-white diagram map for a magazine story about various locations around the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Finally, a New York City map, showing the various neighborhoods comprising Manhattan Island. I especially like the compass rose in this map.

I plan to create more illustrated maps going forward. Stay tuned for future installments!


5 thoughts on “Illustrated Maps

  1. If you ever worry about retirement income or about where your great-great-grandkids’ trust funds will come from, maps might be the answer. The definitive, never-to-be-surpassed maps of tourist destinations, or any kind of region that takes pride in its features (or could be induced to do so by the right graphics)—The Poconos, the N.J. Pine Barrens, Delaware Water Gap (with the ravine in Stokes St Forest and a black bear with cubs), or maybe even the Post-Industrial Wastelands—or one of New Jersey as a whole including all of the above! Floating oval frames showing prominent Jerseyans… plus a few action-figures to represent people who did notable things in the physical (visible) realm like Paul Robeson’s playing football at Princeton (while dressed as Othello). Edison and Whitman recording poetry in Camden… The Trump Casino, cobwebbed, patronized by rats and roaches… And Zeppelins are a natural for your style with their gently curving progression of light and shade, to say nothing of their picturesque explosions… (Aviation segues into notable crimes: Lindbergh kidnapping… and were Leopold & Loeb in NY?) … New Jersey’s Indians always seem to get short shrift because I guess they got erased so early on, but there might be a few remnants (or memories) of tribal communities scattered around, and if so that adds a whole other historical dimension (and the edge of a mile-high ice age glacier looming over a few paleoindians dispatching a mastodon family is always a crowd-pleaser, especially when matched up geographically with hills and kettleholes left by melting ice).
    There was a definitive decorative map of Long Island produced around 1925 that was still being printed and displayed all over around the island when I was a kid, and whenever I see it, it’s so good it deflates any ideas I’ve had of trying to match it or dethrone it. I don’t think you’d have that problem. (Google search terms: “A Map of Long Island” Courtland Smith 1933 revised 1961)
    PS: My own introduction to pen & ink was an 8th-grade geography class… realizing that Great Britain is leaping like a dancer when its coastlines are drawn gracefully (and that grace is synonymous with accuracy in drawing coastlines, and perhaps in drawing in general) was a revelation.

  2. Correction: I meant to type, ‘were Leopold & Loeb in NJ?’ (not NY) but it was Chicago
    Omissions: Washington crossing the Delaware, oil refineries, GW bridge, Bruce Springstein, etc etc. Garden State Parkway. Etc etc etc. Did the radio drama based on the War of the Worlds — aha, yes, of course… Martians and exploding saucers in Grover’s Mill. A highlight for sure.

  3. How could I have forgotten Tony S and his Family? A nice grisly little burial scene in the pine barrens wouldn’t go amiss. No shortage of non-fiction mobsters available if the Sopranos® object to your selling their image without paying royalties.
    The well-known complaint about NJ towns being overshadowed by the metro areas of NYC and Philly would have to be confronted… and since no handmade map from the last 40 years is complete without an homage to Saul Steinberg’s New York, the solution might be decorative insets showing the noble sunlit skylines of Jersey City/Newark/Bayonne, and Camden, with dull smoggy silhouetted towns across their rivers, dingy-murky gray in the background, to set off the NJ cities’ luminous spires. Any NJ building over ten stories high must be in perspective, of course, climbing into the clouds. (Same treatment must be given to NJ’s mountain ranges of course)… Cape May ferries from circa 1910… beached whales… famous shipwrecks… I had intended to mention Woodrow Wilson, presiding over Princeton, perhaps wearing a little pointed cap in the form of a kkk hood to commemorate his racial philosophy (he personally helped revive the KKK with his enthusiasm over DWGriffith’s big movie when president) … And since you know ten times more about the imagery and self-image of NJ, I am (finally) signing off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *