Inspiration Wednesday: Wanderlust and Maps

Wanderlust: a craving for travel, a sense of distant places, a desire to explore the world.

I was born with a major case of wanderlust. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to take a year off before going to college to explore the U.S. By myself. In my car. (I was only 17, so my mom said no way.)

Door County Map

I’ve always been a lover of maps, both as a cartographer and out of curiosity, wondering what life is like in other places.

  • What does the air smell like?
  • What do the buildings and cars look like?
  • What does the local food taste like?
  • What is the culture like?
  • What are people talking about at the cafes?

Maps tell stories!

As my brother-in-law says, “looking at maps kinda feels like traveling in a way.” Since I don’t get to travel as much as I would like (yet), maps are a great way to dream about far away places.

Africa Map

Combine that with my love for illustration and you get my new obsession: illustrating maps, in particular, for places on my bucket list.

I illustrated the three maps pictured in this blog post last summer. They all have a consistent style, with lots of fun icons on the front to illustrate life and activities in that particular area. The back side offers a narrative about the place, which was a good way to practice typography sills, laid over a transparent background of the map from the front, along with a few icons repeated from the front.

Pacific Coast Highway Map

I have been discovering many wonderful map illustrators and related websites these days. My favorite website is They Draw and Travel. I also love to do a general search for “illustrated maps” on Pinterest and Etsy. Some of my current favorites include:

These Are Things

Bianca Tschaikner

Nicole Duquette

Nate Padavik

Those who know me professionally know how much I love to illustrate maps. I really do! So one of my primary focuses in 2014 is going to be doing more maps. Here’s to dreams and exploring the world!



  • I took a look at the They Draw and Travel website. It was very interesting to see what illustrators different interpretations were of different states. Some were a broad concept and others focused in on one element. Thanks for sharing:)

    You mention what are people talking about at the cafes? I always wonder are they really that different from Americans? 🙂 So many cultures so little time to explore them all.

    • Thanks for stopping by Sara! That’s one of the things I love about that website They Draw and Travel – to see the different illustration styles and interpretations from all over the world. Yes, so many places to explore!

  • I too have an obsession (?) with maps and illustrated maps in particular. These Are Things is a blog I discovered about 8-9 months ago; love it and I love their outlook on life.

    • Don’t you just love These Are Things’ illustration style? I own a couple of their pieces. I love their attitude and outlook on life too. What a whirlwind they had in 2013!

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