In 2013 I started teaching a Map Making class on the wonderful online learning platform, Skillshare. The first time I taught it I had 731 students from 34 countries on all 5 continents. Now we’re 1,000+ and counting. You sure can’t have that in a traditional classroom! But better yet, check out the amazing work my students created! (Have you ever tried mapping on a banana!?!) While some were professional illustrators and designers, most were just every day people who love maps. Now the class is open to sign up anytime. Everyone is welcome – all ages, stages, no software is required, and better yet, you can follow along at your own pace with lifetime access to the classroom and resources.
Since a young age, I’ve loved maps. In 8th grade I had a World Geography teacher who when there was extra time at the end of class would toss around a globe beach ball and name a random country for us to find. Clearly, I’d go home and study maps to beef up. Now I wonder, why don’t they teach World Geography in school anymore?
As an adult I dream of having one of those old pull down maps they’d use in classrooms – a French one would be even better! I feel like we’re so drawn to technology that often we miss the world around us. That dot on my iPhone has lead me in the wrong direction more often than a paper map, which I actually have to use my own brain. So that’s why I want to have a return to the other kind of maps.
As Simon Garfield points out in his NPR interview about his latest book On the Map, maps can be imperfect. The book A Map of the World According to Illustrators and Storytellers is a great example of that as well (see here). As we grow older we don’t allow ourselves the creativity we did as a kid – but it doesn’t need to be that way. Don’t be afraid to take out a pen and a piece of paper and start with a hand drawn map. Think about Becky Cooper’s project Mapping Manhattan, and think about how a map helps tell your story.
For more map inspiration, check out the map section of my archives!