As a designer, I make maps that show places a little differently—like measuring time instead of distance on the subway, or showing 50 states on a city street map. Now, I'm launching my first Kickstarter project, and it's a map I'm hugely proud of. Several months ago, I became interested in creating a new design language for freeway maps. Since Southern California was the first place that came to mind when I thought of highways, I turned to Los Angeles as the perfect site to try out my design. I'm thrilled with the results, and I hope you will be too!
Freeway maps could learn a lot from subway maps. On the rails or on the road, travelers care most about how to get from where they are to where they want to be. For decades, subway maps have offered this information with designs that are more geometric than geographic. The best combine an intuitive logic that enables effortless navigation with a distinctive aesthetic. Most highway maps, on the other hand, often lack basic information about how to navigate the system. And as for style, well, they’re not usually something you’d want hanging on your wall. So what would happen if you applied the lines of the subway map to the tangles of freeway system?
That’s the question I set out to answer. My challenge was to clarify every possible route through 31 freeways, 75 interchanges, and more than 850 exits covering a few thousand square miles of greater Los Angeles, all in a single poster. Just as important, it had to be aesthetically beautiful. The solution required a departure from the typical highway map. First, I created a set of symbols and design rules that clarify where drivers can enter the system, which direction to go, how to connect to a different freeway, and where to exit. I then painstakingly translated every last on-ramp and off-ramp from existing maps into the diagram. Add some distinctive typography and a Southern California color palette, and the result is a poster-sized map that’s both legible and stylish. And as far as I can tell, it’s the only map of its kind.
See more images with full design details on my website: www.stonebrowndesign.com/los-angeles-freeways.html
Your backing of this project will fund a print run of 24” x 36” posters, bringing this design to life for the first time. The freeways don’t have any train stations or subway cars to post the map in, but a poster in your living room or office will serve as a unique design statement and a practical travel tool.
I worked with a professional printer to do a print run for a previous project, so when this one goes to press, I know what to look for to make sure the work comes out looking fantastic. I'll use a heavy card stock and archival inks that will keep the poster looking great for years to come. Printing on an offset press will ensure crisp lines and deliver the meticulous reproduction needed to show off the attention I've put into the smallest details of the design.
The map will be revised before it's finalized, and I could use your help. If you spot any errors, or anything that could be made more clear, please let me know! I'll post updates on my website. The print will then get a thorough proofing before going to press. Don't worry, I've put far too much time into this to let a product through that's anything less than perfect.
Thanks for your support! Please get in touch if you have any questions.
Risks and challenges
Many of the biggest challenges are behind me at this point: the map is fully designed!
Once the project is funded, the main risks are snags with the printer. It's impossible to tell what the printer's timeline will look like once this goes to press, so I've been careful to build time into the production schedule to make sure backers aren't waiting a day longer than expected.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)