It is very likely that you are familiar with tourist maps that are given away for free in many travel destinations; however, a custom map illustration is more than just a tourist map. The map illustrations highlight the culture and personality of a specific location through quirky drawings, humorous details and local knowledge.
Jenni Sparks is a London-based illustrator who hand-draws maps of major cities across the world. However, Sparks’ maps are not the traditional tourist maps people are familiar with but map illustrations in a colourful and playful style.
In 2012 Sparks was commissioned by Evermade to create a custom map of London that will be used for tourism campaigns. The finished piece will be enlarged to a huge mural that will cover the floor of London Gatwick Airport. Sparks has also worked with well known clients like Nike, Adidas and Lonely Planet.
Sparks has created map illustrations of other destinations. It takes her several months to complete a map because she has to do extensive research through books, documentaries and online sources to determine the city’s landmarks, streets and transport links. After having an idea of a layout, Sparks visits the location, meets with the locals and tries to understand the vibe of the place.
Everything in the map illustration is hand-drawn from the buildings, parks, bridges, paths and other details that are important in the map. One example is the map of hipster-haven Williamsburg in New York that features hand-drawn coffee mugs, thick-rimmed eyeglasses and a handle-bar moustache.
On the illustrated map of Berlin, Sparks put in detail all the streets of each district using site-specific symbols like graffiti spray cans, techno music notes and pints of German beer. Sparks aim is to breathe new life to cartography and provide each location with its own personality and character.
You can commission a custom map illustration for whatever purpose you like. It can be used as a tourist map or enlarged into a board to help visitors find their way. It can be a map illustration of a city, resort, campus or town that can be used to decorate walls, conference rooms, hotel lobbies and city halls.