These past few months have been an extremely busy time for me. Between school and the maps I’ve been hard-pressed almost every day, plus I got a dog and I dare say she’s the cutest one ever made.
In all that time I’ve made six new maps, I’ve sold four $300 pieces (including one to the mayor!), and I’ve worked towards perfecting the craft. I’ve been able to move my prints towards taking less time and being higher quality at the same time and each map I make is better than the last. It all happened in quick succession too, three of my sales were within two days and then the last was about a month after.
The story starts with me getting completely fed up with not having sold a single map since I started this all in January. It was early April, I was low on money (still am) and I was feeling low because I hadn’t managed to sell a single map this far. I decided I’d just walk around downtown Ruston with the Ruston map I made:
and try to sell it to whoever was interested. I tried several stores, from Turbo Goat to Parish Press and back, finally hearing about an art studio inside Frame of Mind (next too Rumo’s Barber Shop on Alabama) where I met Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Lewis. They each commissioned entirely new maps done of their family’s properties up in North Louisiana and also pointed me to Mayor Ronnie Ward, who has a strong interest in local and Ruston-themed artwork. I met him the next day and he was blown away; he bought the Ruston map within five minutes:
Now to begin on the other maps. Mrs. Jones’ map took a few tries to get the composition just right but ultimately I got it and was able to outline her husband’s and his cousin’s plots of farmland and depict the lake in the middle of the property as well as the creek that runs through both. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of it.
Mrs. Lewis’ was a bit more work, there were more layers that were more densely packed together alongside the water layers. Overall her map became my favorite of all the maps I’ve made thus far, here’s a sneak peek:
In the midst of working on the latter two maps, I was invited to an art crawl in downtown Ruston by Mrs. Jones where I proudly displayed my 24″x12″ and 12″x12″ New Orleans maps (pictures coming soon of that 12″x12″) and garnered lots of praise for my work; one man was especially interested in have a 24″x12″ New Orleans map for his office while another outright commissioned yet another map, which would turn out to be the final map I made this school year and easily my second favorite overall.
This man and his wife own property out near Driskill Mountain, the highest point in Louisiana. Now when I say “mountain” and “highest point” what I really mean is it is a very impressive hill in North-Central Louisiana. It only sits at about 530 ft above sea level, it’s just that when most of the state is at or below sea level, something even that tall can be quite large. That map was the first one I learned how to use a good typeface on and how to use placenames to outline features rather than to slap on like stickers. I actually completed it and delivered it a few days before finalizing Mrs. Lewis’ map so Mrs. Lewis’ came out even better than the Driskill Mt. map did. On the mountain one though, I learned an invaluable skill in using negative space on the cutouts to cut more layers than one at a time, meaning I could make this map much higher than my typical maps while actually using less wood. Because the ridge system has clearly defined peaks that are small and gradually get bigger sloping to the base, I was able to fit 6 whole layers on one piece of wood which allowed me to reach a total layer height of thirteen rather than the usual eight. This skill, along with learning typeface and how to vector engrave rather than raster engrave (a whole other post’s worth of a topic, I’ll write a tutorial sometime soon), will be incredibly useful moving forward with these maps. Here is a shot of Driskill Mountain:
All told, every one of my customers has been so pleased with their maps and it makes me feel good knowing I’ve something wonderful for each of them to display proudly. Some were birthday presents, some just to have and show off, but either way they were enjoyed by many. The money I made off of selling the maps, although helpful in really pulling me out of a financial rut multiple times, pales in comparison to the confidence I have in making these pieces of art that I’m so proud of. I remember saying to my girlfriend and my family and anyone who’d listen back in February and March that I’d never sell a single one of these and no one even seemed to like them all that much. Now I realize that people really do like them a lot, it just takes someone who loves maps and loves being able to look at the area around them and appreciate it to want to buy something like this and that as long as I can make some people happy that that’s what counts. Stay tuned for more and thank you for reading.