One of my favorite tasks at work is getting to create maps for our magazine. At it's best, Adventure Cyclist contains some of the most compeling adventure travel narrative found anywhere.
A few years back I got on-a-kick of trying to incorporate old styles of maps, with newer styles. The following are my favorites from that time.
The John Wilkes Booth map above was made for an article about a modern day retracing of the assassin's retreat after he shot AL in 65. The author dubbed his route "The Booth Escape Bicycle Route." Needless to say, I felt the story and ride were fairly boring. So, I set out to spice the piece up as best I could.
I started by create a base map in an older style featuring Voluta Script as the typeface. Over that map i set out to put a more contemporary flair using the most in-vogue face at the time, Gotham. The orange arrows worked well to guide.
After all the mapping was rapped up, the piece didn't really have the kick I was going for. Searching around I had come across an illustration of Booth in the act of shooting Lincoln. I started working it into a title. After some cropping and playing around with the type I came up with something I thought worked well. Albet, to me it seemed a bit controversial to have someone shooting someone else in the pages of a bicycle touring magazine, but then again, why not? In the end, I asked my editor if he would be fine running it. Without hesitation, I got the ok.
Without a doubt this is one of my favorite maps I've created, and it even got the nod to appear in a cartographic design journal. But, looking back now, it's not what I was going for. I think I tinkered with it too much, and the new and old styles began to blend. The line wasn't as drastic as I had set out to accomplish, and in a way it appears to me a watered down version of what it could've been.
If the Booth article was uninspiring, the next month I got handed an article that was anything but. It was a piece that drew me in with wild country and wild deeds. Just when the adventure seems over, the author, Aaron Teasdale, visits a place that could ruin the environment that he had just sold me on being one of the most wild places in the west. A coal mine was slated to be put in in the upper headwaters of the Flathead River.
This got me fired up.
I first created the bottom map to look like an online NYT map to sort-of represent the present and future. It didn't feel complete until I added the "job opportunities - click here" in the lower left hand corner. It's sometimes the little things that can set a piece off.
On top, a map was whipped up to show what the Flathead's drainage looked like in 1889. The maps I researched from the 1880s were not as accurate as I had hoped. So, I did what I could, and improvised the rest. Then, the watershed boundary was cut out of the old map to show the contrast of what was going on today with that of the past.
I'm more proud of this piece then any other I've done. Ya, looking back the work's a tad shoddy, and my Photoshop skills were lacking, but in the end it still communicated exactly what I wanted it to. Maybe more. Versions have gone on to be part of a few academic papers on the subject.
I'm also proud of my friend Aaron. His article won most prestigious prize it could've, the gold Lowell Thomas Award for Adventure Journalism. And, that's pretty cool to be part of.
On the playlist: Felice Brothers - Frankies Gun
Inspiration: PCM - Aaron James Draplin
maps by Casey Greene