An anonymous contributor sent this map to Yuca’s in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles along with their recommendation to eat at the small taco stand for lunch. This was in 2009, mind you, and we pride ourselves in doing our research. We all know the American Apparel is no longer there, and just in case this map inspires you to lunch at Yuca’s, be aware it may have moved. Luckily, their website says its only a few blocks away on Hillhurst.
This detailed and accurate hand-drawn map indicates the location of fruit trees and bushes in the Browne’s Addition neighborhood of Spokane, Washington. Though it was drawn over 11 years ago, the map could likely be used today to find the very same fruit trees Amaris identified. Go ahead and try Spokanians…(Spokanites?).
Shortly after moving to London, Viviane purchased an A-Z Atlas, the most popular way to navigate the complex city prior to the smartphone. Even with the atlas, she kept getting lost. To help, her friend drew this map indicating, in general terms, the location of her flat, and where she could find food. The friend even took time to punch holes in the pages so they could be added to the spiral bound book. Viviane, like many A-Z owners, continued to add her own pages of notes and addendums until the atlas became quite bulky. She wrote, “Now I know my way around London, but I still use the ‘enhanced’ A-Z; I like to be reminded that the world can be confusing at times.”
Today’s maps from the archive will hopefully inspire you to draw a map of your neighborhood.
Drawn entirely from memory, Aura depicted her hometown of Woodbridge, Connecticut as it existed during her childhood. The map includes travel time (in green) to reference the distances between places as well as details such as the best trick-or-treating and a stop sign that was repeatedly vandalized by teenagers.
Sabine’s map combines memories of her childhood growing up in Germany with glimpses of her current life in Arkansas. She uses the street layout of her German neighborhood to create a visual structure. She then fills the blocks with text derived from the free association of childhood memories and her contemporary daily routine.
When was your last night out?
Think back to the last time you went out for pleasure. When going somewhere was more than buying groceries with a mask. When you could text someone and meet them to do one of the many things we normally do to unwind. Maybe it was a movie or a seemingly uneventful dinner. Maybe it was a grand theatrical production or just a casual drink around the corner. At the time it may have even felt mundane. That’s ok. Given our current pandemic-influenced lifestyle, these moments of collective activity deserve recognition.
Through map-making, take a moment to commit to paper your last night out.
As I sit here amid the pandemic, it’s been over three months since my last night out. While March 5th isn’t technically the last night I went out before the lock-down, it is the last night that felt normal. It was a rather unique evening mixed with a good dose of mundane reality. I met my friend for a beer before we went to see Alex Da Corte’s re-interpretation of an Alan Kaprow happening. On the way there, I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday. We stopped at Starbucks to get a protein bar. We had extra tickets and gave them to friends. A friend I hadn’t seen in a long time shared his clementine. We met more friends afterward and shared an Uber home. Truthfully, all of us knew things were changing that night. My dad told me to refinance my mortgage and buy more cleaning supplies. Alex told the audience to go home and call their mothers. Earlier that day, we considered how we might work from home. The future was very uncertain. Even though our official lock-down was a couple of weeks away, everything I did after this night was influenced by a looming fear of what comes next.
Cute musings, but how do I get started?
Hey, there’s no wrong way to start a drawing, but if you find blank paper intimidating, keep reading.
Where did you go and how did you get there? Take a moment to consider all of the places that are important for your story. Note how you traveled to these locations. Jot them down on a notecard or simply make a mental record.
Let geography guide the composition. The spatial relationship between important locations can help determine the overall composition of your drawing. Decide on a starting point and an endpoint, allowing other locations to fall into place. You can look at your phone if you want, but chances are you have a pretty good idea of how to get there. You found your way there in the first place!
Pencil to paper. This is the perfect map to draw without preplanning. As you work, your mind will wander, and you’ll naturally remember more details. Start with a pencil to help the drawing evolve. Chart the overall journey from start to finish. Imagine you are explaining how to get there to someone else. As you are drawing, jot down anything you remember along the way.
Edit and refine. Once you have the basic image in pencil, redraw it with something more permanent such as a pen or marker. Edit the original drawing as you go, making determinations about what is important and what is extraneous. Erase the pencil, or just leave it there to reveal your process.
Color for emphasis. Color is optional, but it is an excellent way of creating distinctions, emphasis, and mood in the image. In the example above color is used to indicate different modes of transportation, to de-emphasize the text notations, and to show the predominant color scheme of the event.
This map uniquely resonates with the spirit of this activity. Mashing together a variety of shows he attended over many years, Tony Gonzalez plots his proximity to the stage for each performance. While technically representing multiple nights out and drawn years before we knew what social distancing meant, it references a series of memories within collective spaces as well as a form of escape and entertainment many of us miss right now. With the lens of the pandemic, it’s hard not to see this as a document of something in the past. Consider drawing your version of Tony’s map. Imagine, for example, blending a year’s worth of concerts, sporting events, performances, and drag shows. Go ahead and mix them up in honor of the collective moments we so desire.
Ace drew this diagram to document the apartment he shared with two roommates. I’m posting it today it to provide some additional inspiration for Activity 3: Home Poem. Imagine, for example, a similar diagram of your home where the names of rooms are replaced by text found in each space. Ding ding ding! Light bulb!
Drawn on the back of a fax cover page, this map provides directions from 237 East Ontario Street to two of the tallest buildings in Chicago: the Sears Tower (Willis Tower) and 311 South Wacker St. The HDMA received this anonymous submission in an envelope along with a pink Post-it stating “my boss, owner of the Film and Tape Works, makes these all time. It’s hilarious.”
Let’s find meaning in found text by exploring the words surrounding us at home. The strange, repetitive phrases that inundate our daily lives can become slogans for our personal realities. For example, think about the endless text on the products in your bathroom and how much this text might say about your daily identity construction. Consider Claire Saffitz joyfully reading long lists of ingredients and how this underscores not only the nearly impossible task of recreating a factory-produced snack food but also our relationship to manufactured food in the 21st century.
Begin by choosing a room in your home. We’ll be trying to capture the spirit of that space through text, so find a room containing many objects with words on their surface. Start exploring the space by looking for text within it. Notice objects you use regularly but don’t necessarily read: your Sharpie marker, your coffee mug, a warning sticker on your lamp. Record any words and phrases that grab your attention. Notice things like repetition, lists, and slogans. You don’t have to write everything down. Instead, try to focus on the text that captures the mood of the specific space and its role in your daily life.
Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker / ACMI AP Conforms to ASTM D-4236 / Sharpie Fine Purple / Made in the USA
Oxford Circus / London / There’s so much to see in London / London Transport / 5d / Postage Revenue / First Class / Greetings from London / London
Caution: to reduce the risk of fire, use MAX 100W Type A bulb
In the journal entry (at top), for example, I wrote down text found in my basement. Of particular importance in that space are some boxes that remain unpacked: “Small / The Home Depot / Pratt 100% Recycled / Small / Pequeña … Be Orange / Think green.” Text from a calendar becomes a nod to the repetition of days while being quarantined “…April / Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday…” and text found on the back of Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook lends a hopeful reach towards traveling again someday “…maybe she’s on a photo shoot in Zanzibar.” I didn’t set out to make a poem about these ideas, but instead discovered along the way how the objects in the space coincide with my experience right now. This weird little collection of text really is a portrait of my life during the pandemic.
The poems alone can be seen as unique maps defining space through words rather than lines or symbols. Certainly you could take the text further by incorporating it into a fully realized drawing. You could, for example, combine the text with a diagram of the space or conform the text to lines that mimic linear perspective.
Michelle managed to capture a lot of detail in her small map (3×5 inches). She accurately depicts the familiar layout of Amsterdam and includes some of her recommendations for things to see. She didn’t explain why she drew the map, but I think we should all spend an afternoon experiencing her Amsterdam the next time we’re there.