My name is Archie, a designer, writer and letterpress printer in Portland, Oregon. I've been working on a series of minimalist maps for a few years. The goal of each map is to explain the city in the clearest, most concise way possible.
Here are some of my maps thus far:
So far, I've mapped seven cities and I'd love to keep mapping more. But in order to that, I need to visit a few new places to get a mental and cultural groundwork while I make the map.
Here's where I'll go during from late September to late October:
I chose the to go south because people in the south like to talk. They like to tell stories about their home and make people feel welcome. It shouldn't be difficult to find opinions, stories and authentic interest for a project like mine.
You might be asking: "Why do you need to travel there? Can't you just use a Google map to find this stuff?"
A Google map is very helpful for lots of tasks. It's good for finding the best Chinese restaurant and getting directions. But it can't show the entire city in a totally simple, totally clear way. Believe it or not, our eyes and brains are not built to absorb that much information at once. But by graphically reducing a city to the most important elements helps us visually explore the city and install it into our minds with much more ease. I use circles because they are the most graphically simple shapes for our eye to understand. When we are faced with a barrage of circles, our brains don't get the "dazzle effect" that kills our ability to understand a big information system. Instead, we get a holistic vision of the city's layout and essential landmarks that sticks to our brains.
Google maps are also not people. They don't know that the area between "Nob Hill" and "The Tenderloin" is called "TenderNob". This is an essential conversation that must come from on-site discussions with locals.
Google maps also do not show me that "Main Street" is full of life and activity that MUST be represented on my map of essentials!
You might also be asking: "So what are you going to do all day?"
-Use every type of transport available. Traveling by many different means gives a visitor a really well-rounded view of the city's structure, and help one see it from many different angles. This way I can produce a map that doesn't rely entirely on highways or bicycle streets, but combines all of them.
-Ask the advice and opinion from everyone I meet: what's good, what's not-so-good, what's important and why. Residents are the essential ingredient in my maps, because they know the place better than anyone. In fact, they ARE the place.
-Do a lot of the design work at night, while I'm still in the city. That way, I can get feedback and opinions immediately from people that know the city better than any other.
I need an understanding of the city's structure and a conversation with the local population to get an accurate survey of the essentials and non-essentials of the place. During the days I will explore, during the nights I will design, until I create a whole, cohesive system that anyone familiar with the city can understand and appreciate. Since I will be in each city, I will have direct access to feedback about the design decisions I've made.
After the trip, I'll head back to my home city of Portland, Oregon, where I'll print the maps on a 19th century letterpress. Letterpress is our oldest and strongest printing method, taking time and patience. It prints the artwork deep into the paper, creating a solid and steadfast work can last for generations.
Thanks so much for your support! I couldn't do it without you :)
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge will be interacting with locals and finding the most interesting and culturally significant places in each city. Walking, talking and designing will be my primary goals during the actual trip. Fortunately, these are my three favorite activities, so I won't be afraid to take the challenge head-on.
Back at home, I've made sure to assemble a team of friends to help me package, seal and send out all the rewards in a timely manner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)