Returning

hand-drawn map of a trip to the airport
Oskar Smollny, Sending my sister back to Norway after 6 months of lockdown at home, 2021 [Düsseldorf, Germany]

Oskar drew this map while attending our Zoom workshop hosted by the Glasgow Zine Library. In it, he documents a trip to the airport he and his sister took earlier that day. After a six-month lockdown in Germany, his sister was finally returning to her university courses in Norway. He shows us their route from the parked car, through the coronavirus test site, past the baggage drop-off and a quick stop for coffee, ending with a tearful goodbye.

Here be the kitchen

a fictional reimagining of a home kitchen
Lady Lux, Here Be the Kitchen, 2010 [Chester, United Kingdom] original web archive: map 268

Drawn on a rainy afternoon with her eight-year-old daughter, Lux creates a fanciful world in her home’s kitchen. Everyday appliances transform into potentially treacherous points of interest. The refrigerator houses the Icy Lair of Evil Troutus [top right], the stove transforms into an island of fire [middle left], and her precariously overstuffed bookshelf morphs into the Cliffs of Madness [slightly cropped out of the image, bottom right]. In the center, it seems the kitchen’s actual island, the High Plateau, with its sacred flame and Froo-it-Bo-ll Mountain offers a haven amidst the chaos.

Small suite space

hand drawn map of a dorm room
Graeme Fisher, Dorm Room, 2007 [Vancouver, Canada] original web archive: map 123

These maps were drawn by Graeme to spatially document his dorm room at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He used them as preliminary research while creating a temporary sculptural intervention in the space for a class assignment. The drawings depict Graeme’s unique interpretation of a room he inhabits for only a brief period of his life as a college student. Long after Graeme and his sculpture project have departed, the room will continue to host a variety of students’ lives and studies throughout its tenure at the university.

hand drawn map of a dorm room
Graeme Fisher, Dorm Room, 2007 [Vancouver, Canada] original web archive: map 124

Yuca’s

hand drawn map of los angeles california
Unknown, Yuca’s, c. 2009 [Los Angeles, California] original web archive: map 237

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.

Browne’s Addition Food Map

hand drawn map of spokane washington
Amaris Ketcham, Browne’s Addition Food Map, 2009 [Spokane, Washington] original web archive: map 210

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?).

A-Z Addendum

hand drawn map of london added to a spiral bound atlas
Unknown (drawn for Viviane Schwarz), A to Z Addendum, c. 2008 [London, United Kingdom] original web archive: map 48

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.”

Neighborhood Memories

Today’s maps from the archive will hopefully inspire you to draw a map of your neighborhood.


hand drawn map of Woodbridge Connecticut
Aura Seltzer, 2010, [Woodbridge, Connecticut] original HDMA web archive: map 291

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 Schmidt, 2011 [various locations] original HDMA web archive: map 302

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.

Activity 4 Last Night Out

map your last night out

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.

hand drawn map of march 5 2020 in philadelphia
Kris Harzinski, Last Night Out, 2020 [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

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.

hand drawn map by tony gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez, Front Row, Sometimes Further, 2009 [various locations]

Extra credit

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. 

Additional Inspiration: night in, night out

interstitial image dude

Stairs up to our apartment

Ace Kieffer (drawn at Baltimore DIY Festival), Stairs up to our apartment, 2009 [Baltimore, Maryland]

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!