Spain Map Illustration. I started illustrating this map of Spain right at the end of 2016. I was tying up all my commissions for the year and gave myself a couple weeks to work on personal projects and one of these projects was this map. I had been intending to work on this map for a few months but with family, work and everything else I had going on it was impossible. Plus these maps need a lot researching, sketching and the elements take time to illustrate.
So after a few late nights I only completed this illustrated map of Spain last month but why did I decide to illustrate another map. Firstly they’re a lot of fun to illustrate and they bring up a lot of good memories, which I’ll go into below. Also a Taiwanese illustration and design magazine called “DPI Magazine” invited me to be one of their featured illustrators for their February issue. The maps I’ve created to date have generated me quite a lot of good business and I wanted to introduce people to maps with my more recent illustration style.
With this motivation I created this map before the magazine’s deadline and I can’t wait to see my illustrations in the latest issue of DPI magazine!
Back to memories, I visited Spain with my husband back in 2010. Back at this time our friend Lorenzo lived in Granada, Spain. Lorenzo is a pretty cool guy, for almost a decade he’s been moving across the globe living and working in different countries whilst learning the language, culture, etc. I met him while working at a popular hotel in Edinburgh and we’ve remained friends since. So we decided to visit him in Spain and we also travelled around Granada and Madrid. For Madrid I really liked the Museo Reina Sofia, the Mercado de San Miguel food market and the Rastro flea market was cool but the city didn’t really blow my socks off.
Granada did blow my socks off though, it had amazing food, stunning weather and the architecture was really beautiful. The Alhambra was really beautiful, we loved all the various cafes, the seafood was great and we of course loved the tapas. I loved that we could go to a bar, pay a couple euros and we’d get a glass of beer with some (mostly) really delicious food. In effect the food was free, how awesome is that. We had a lot of laughs, fun and our bellies were always happy from the food and drink. So I do want to go back to Spain one day and visit the hundreds of other awesome locations and things going on in Spain.
So this map is a combination of memories but a lot of research as well. As with my other maps, this map is focused on food, drink, tourist attractions and some fun things related to Spain. I also illustrated “Pablo Picasso” and “Salvador Dali” on the map as they are two of my favourite Spanish artists.
When I illustrated this map, I felt like I was going down memory lane and I wanted to deliver this happy feeling to people who viewed my map. I hope you want to visit Spain in the future.
Incidentally you can also purchase this map via my Etsy shop here
Japan is one of my favourite destinations. I went to Japan 3 or 4 times when I was really young but as you know kids never truly appreciate the fun, the culture and the food. So now I’m an adult and I’m all into food and culture (and of course all kinds of other things) Japan is somewhere I really want to visit again. So when I put together a list of countries I wanted to illustrate as part of my Map Illustration Project I decided instantly that Japan was one of the countries that I just had to illustrate.
As you may know this is part of an ongoing project that I’m working on but with the illustration jobs I have to do right now this project is sadly on hold. But, I will come back to it as soon as I can.
Below are some of the illustrations I illustrated for this map. I’m a foodie and a huge fan of Japanese food so you can see I really enjoyed illustrating Japanese food. During the research stage I found a really unique Japanese fruit called “Akebia” (some websites call it “Akebi”). I was really fascinated by this fruit because I have never seen or tasted something like Akebia before and I really love my fruit. So I had to illustrate this pretty looking fruit and hope I can visit Japan one day to try it.
I really like the animations from Studio Ghibli and they have a Studio Ghibli museum not too far from Tokyo. This is a place I definitely want to visit in the future. My favourite character from Studio Ghibli is Totoro so I illustrated Totoro to represent them. I just love Totoro’s chubby hairy look and my daughter loves their cartoons as well.
Another thing I really want to do apart from all the shopping and sightseeing is one day do a geishi and/or kimono experience. I remember before when I was looking at going on holiday to Japan (which didn’t happen) I read they do these experience tours in Kyoto. You can book these kind of one day experiences with your tour guides and when you arrive on the day your host will do all the make up, hair and clothes for you. So you can experience being a geisha for a day or if you want something lighter you can do a kimono experience instead.
I also really want to see a sumo match in person one day and the monkey hot spring in Nagano. So maybe you can help me achieve this by buying a copy this map from my Etsy shop here.
As mentioned I’m pretty busy right now with work but I’m hoping to do more maps in the near future. I illustrated Scotland, where I live now, before but I’m now thinking about illustrating the whole of the UK as well as Spain or France. My husband is nagging me to illustrate Australia but I haven’t decided yet so stay tuned.
Some of the detail image of my Japan map illustrations:
One of my favourite Japanese actor is Ken Watanabe. So I illustrate him on my Japan map illustration.
Mexico Map Illustration. Mexico has and still is one of my dream destinations and a place I really want to visit before I die. So when I decided to illustrate some map illustrations, Mexico was really high up on my list. I just love all the colours, the culture and the food of Mexico. I also desperately want to see the Day of the Dead festival one day and much more.
I like illustrating maps because the process of illustrating a map of a country, city or area always makes me feel like I’ve gotten to know this place before I visit. Of course I believe I will learn much more about a place if I can visit in person but it’s ok to let the imagination run sometimes.
For this Mexico Map Illustration I started by finding “things” I wanted to drawn from each of the states in Mexico and then I listed them in my sketchbook. I tried to keep at least two things for each states but sometimes there were more. Things that could be included were food, local agriculture, souvenirs, buildings, traditional dance, customs and famous people from the past. For example, if someone talks to me about Mexico I will automatically think of Day of the Dead Festival, Frida Kahlosugar skulls, lucha libra and nachos but my process teaches me an awful lot more about the countries I want to illustrate.
I never knew before this project Mexico is a popular spot for archaeology as Mexico has a lot of dinosaur fossils in the ground. There is also an interesting food called tomatillos that looks like green tomato and is covered by a layer of skin. I just love this process and the fact I can develop my knowledge of something through my work. How fun is that?!
Below are just a select few of the “element” illustrations I created for my Mexico Map Illustration.
I really hope I got everything right as I don’t know any Spanish so if I made any mistakes please forgive me. Some of the buildings I illustrate might not be the typical tourist attractions but I just loved the colour and the shape of the buildings so I can’t help but illustrate them. Also I want to present a “bright and positive” image of Mexico so I didn’t illustrate anything related to crime. Some of the information I got from the Wikitravel website states that certain parts of Mexico are quite dangerous for tourists but just like many places around the world there are good parts and bad parts.
This map is a little bit different compared with other maps I have illustrated but this is exactly why I like working on self-initiated projects like this. Projects like these give me a chance to experiment with different design styles and explore different layouts and all kinds of possibilities. Who knows maybe next time when I illustrate a map it will be in an entirely different style and design again.
But one thing I really hope to do in the near future is to change my computer. I use an iMac and it’s now four years old and it really struggles with the latest versions of Adobe Illustrator. My husband’s iMac is seven years old this year and while he does 90% of his work on a Macpro laptop when he does use his iMac we make each other laugh with our constant swearing at our computers.
But the point is I almost didn’t manage to finish this map because my computer is now so slow with creating images like this. So lovely people, if you like my art please get in touch and buy my map so I can have some money to buy a new computer so I can create more work like this.
United States of America Map illustration. Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on my latest map illustration which is an illustrated map of the United States of America. As you will know there are so many states in the USA so it took me quite a long time to do all the research and sketches for each element that you can see on the map.
At first I was going down the traditional route of searching for typical tourist attractions in the USA. But after I discovered a very fun, cool and pretty awesome website called “Roadside America” I decided to change the whole direction of my research. This website shows a lot of “unusual places or landmarks” for each of the different states of America. So I found a lot of really cool landmarks and attractions from this website including the giant pink pig Floyd, Big blue whales, watermelon water tower, giant molar, giant coffee pot building and milk bottle building…
I have never been to the United States of America and I’m really desperate to visit there one day and even take a road trip with my family. Apart from some of the famous and traditional tourist attractions I really want to see the fascinating quirky and fun attractions. How cool is it to see a building in the shape of a giant basket or coffee pot?’ That’s how I thought during the process of creating this map illustration.
I also included some agriculture, architecture and of course I can’t miss my favourite thing in the world; ‘Food!’. One of my favourite things to do when I travel is taste the local food. I’m not talking about typical hotel food, I’m talking about real local food so I also illustrated a lot of food that each state is famous for. For example, Florida is famous for it’s key lime pie, Michigan is famous for it’s cherries and cherry pie and huckleberry pie comes from Idaho. I remember when I watched American films and lots of films always talk about “pie” and they sound really delicious. This is something I definitely have to try when I finally visit America and maybe I can also illustrate an American pie map.
My computer is a little bit old now so it’s starting to struggle a little when working on this kind of project. With the USA having 50 states I wanted to choose at least 1 or 2 things to illustrate to represent each state. So that’s at least 100 illustrations and all with a lot of detail, so you can imagine my computer and I had many words (me shouting and my computer beach balling). Below are some key elements illustrations I illusted for this United States of America Map illustration.
I hope you like my map illustration of the United States of America and perhaps you will want to travel to the USA to see these fun and cool attractions just as much as I want to.
America map illustration
Every time I illustrate a map of a country it always teaches me so much about that place before I visit. For example, now I know there is a fruit called paw paw. Tennessee is the birth place of candy floss and people call people from Alaska “sourdough”. All of those things made this project so much fun.
When I was a little girl I was really into a book (and game) called “Where’s Wally?” and I think this has slightly influenced my map illustration. My maps are very busy with many small details so people like me can have fun trying to find different things. Including all these details also invites the viewer to look at the map for longer so they can find out famous things about their country that they may not have known about before.
Below are some of the detail images from my United States of America Map illustration.
The buildings in the above section of the USA are just so cool. There are buildings that have the shape of a coffee pot, a milk bottle and there’s even a teapot shape building. How aesome. Those buildings look like they should only exist in a Mr Men book but they do actually exist in the real world. There is even a building in Connecticut that is the birthplace of the hamburger but sadly it doesn’t look like a hamburger.
There is also a sweet corn water tower and a giant coffee pot water tower. People are so creative and fun in the USA. I personally just think a water tower is just a water tower. They usually look very boring, grey and they are just a metal tank in the sky and that’s it. But I found so many cute water towers in America through researching the fun and quirky attractions of the USA. So I have illustrated four water towers which are, the sweet corn water tower, giant coffee pot water tower, watermelon water tower and peach water tower. There are so many more water towers I really want to illustrate but I’m afraid if I try to illustrate most or all of them then the map will become the ‘United Water Towers of America’.
This has also been the first time I have had a chance to illustrated different tribes of Indian-American people and also an Eskimo girl. I really enjoyed illustrating these characters and would love to illustrate more in the future. I know these people have played such an important and huge part of American culture so it wasn’t fair and also a shame to not illustrate them in my map illustration.
A must see along the famous “Route 66” is the blue whales slide in a lake in Oklahoma. The sunflower state of Kansas has supposedly the best BBQ ribs in the USA and Kansas is also famous for The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, sunflowers and of course BBQ ribs. There is also a wagon building in Nebraska.
So that’s it for this map illustration. It was a lot of work but I absolutely love it and have printed it really huge for my home. Working on this project has really enlightened me on what an interesting and awesome country the United States of America and one day I really want to travel around the USA and visit as many of the sites I have illustrated.
The Food & Health Innovation Service commissioned me to illustrate a Scotland food map animation. They commissioned me through the design agency “The Gate Worldwide“. I created a food map recently for a personal project which they saw and they asked me to illustrate a “Scotland Food Map” which they would then turn into an animation to use in their video “Developing Scotland’s Appetite for Healthy Innovation“.
I have worked with “The Gate Worldwide” for as long as my illustrator business has ran. I have always had great experiences working with them and they are great people to work with. They always give me a lot of freedom with my creativity and respect my ideas and efforts. I know a lot of time illustrators are not allowed to say a word about how the final work should look like but I found that the illustrations I have created usually look better if my client is willing to give me a little bit of freedom to work as I want to.
The art director for this project emailed me an eight page PDF file before we had a chat on the phone to discuss some of the details for this project. This was a delight as it gave me a clear message as to what they wanted and also the fact they had seem my previous map illustration and wanted something very similar made this a very fun and relatively easy project to work on. It also saved a lot of time from discussing ideas but for reference here is a hyperlink for my previous map illustration.
I thought this project was going to take 2-3 weeks to illustrate due to the sheer amount of detail and number of illustrations required but I actually finished the whole map in just 10 days. A map illustration usually takes me around 2-3 weeks to research, sketch and illustrate but in this instance it was a lot quicker.
This June I spent three weeks creating this ‘Scotland Food Map Illustration” as part of a personal project. Summer is always a little bit of a quiet time for my illustration business so I use this time to create my own projects. As I live in Scotland and have lived here for a number of years I wanted to illustrate a food map of Scotland.
I spent hours researching the speciality foods or at least local produce of the different regions within Scotland. My plan was to illustrate this map by the different shires (counties/states) of Scotland but when I started researching I decided this would make the map way too clotted, especially around the central and south parts of Scotland. Since I decided to illustrate this map based on Scotland’s local government regions. If you look at the map, the local area (counties) are named on the blue medieval style flags. I used the Scottish flags’ blue and white for the flag and I used a medieval type flag because overtime I think about Scotland I always relate to medieval history and medieval banners to represent different Scottish families etc. Maybe I’ve watched Braveheart too many times. That was one of my favourite movies when I was younger and it was my introduction to Scotland.
I was a professional chef before I became an illustrator and I worked in one of the top restaurants in Edinburgh. My restaurant always the vast majority of it’s ingredients from local farms, butchers and fish mongers. We also used a lot of Scottish wild herbs, mushrooms and cheese. So I was amazed by the richness of Scottish food. I never thought there were so many delicious and amazing foods in Scotland. In Taiwan, and I know this is very naive, when we think about the food of the United Kingdom all we can think about is fish and chips, Haggis, beer, whisky, afternoon tea with your pinky in the air speaking queen’s English etc. I never knew Scotland is one of the most famous seafood larders of Europe.
Edinburgh has now been my home for nearly seven years and Edinburgh is now effectively my second home so I always want to illustrate more things related to Edinburgh and Scotland. But sometimes with my freelance business I don’t always get the chance to illustrate things that relate to Edinburgh or Scotland. I always struggle to find personal time as I have a really busy life, especially with my 3.5 year old daughter who demands my full attention a lot of the time. I can only use very limited time when she goes to the nursery or sleeps to focus on my illustration business so as you can imagine it’s not easy for me to spend time on my personal projects.
But I’m happy I finally did it! I finally finished this Scotland food map illustration and hopefully I can do more of this kind of map illustration in the future. So far I want to illustrate a UK cheese map, a Scotland cheese map and a whiskey map.
These illustrations are the speciality foods from different places in Scotland. I love researching and illustrating these foods and I had absolutely no idea there are so many chocolatiers and shops in Scotland. I even bought a guide to the chocolatiers of Scotland from “The List”.