THE MAKING OF A MAP
A CLOSER LOOK AT ALEISHA'S SIGNATURE HAND-PAINTED, HAND-LABELED AND HEAT EMBOSSED CARTOGRAPHY ARTWORK
When Aleisha first founded her art business it was based upon the idea that she could find inspiration in any geographical location and use it to create a visually pleasing piece of artwork - and that's how her signature cartography artwork came to be. Her first maps were of places that were special to her or for her close friends to remind them of their hometowns. Eventually, more and more people began asking for maps of their own and Aleisha's collection started to grow. No matter how urban or rural and no matter how big or small, Aleisha could make a unique and colorful map of it.
To this day, Aleisha still enjoys creating map designs of new cities and places because they hold so much meaning for her customers. She wants everyone to feel like their "special place" can be turned into a masterpiece, which is why she promises to continue the custom cartography side of her business going forward. However, due to the increase of interest in her work in recent years, she is only able to take on a limited number of custom map commissions each year.
If you're interested in a custom map of your own, please click the link below and select "a custom map" from the drop down menu to see if commissions are currently open.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
01. RESEARCH & DESIGN
With every new map, Aleisha starts the creative process by researching the location's geographical layout and tries to understand it the way a local would. She will determine how zoomed in or out the map should be so that it looks visually pleasing and then begin sketching the initial outline in pencil. She prefers to do this process free-handed as she believes it gives the map design a more natural look and feel.
02. ADDING PATTERNS
Once the new map's outline has been sketched, Aleisha begins to add her signature patterns. This concept of her cartography artwork was originally inspired by the maps and keys she would see in her college textbooks. As a computer science major, many of her classes required her to study very technical subjects and often times different patterns were used to help students differentiate between areas or computer processes. To this day, Aleisha is constantly adding to her "pattern collection" as she finds inspiration from so many things in nature.
When adding patterns to her maps, Aleisha is strategic about where the patterns get placed so that there's a balance of color and "pattern" space throughout the entire piece.
03. ADDING COLOR AND TEXTURE
The next phase of the map-making process becomes even more fun. This is where Aleisha will heat emboss the borders of the map and paint the remaining blank spaces with vibrant watercolors. Each of her hand-painted map products are made-to-order, which allows the customer to select their preferred color scheme. Aleisha has fun with this stage and will sometimes do "tie-dye" or "ombré" effects with the watercolors or even paint certain areas with a city's flag (like Chicago), an airport's carpet pattern (like Portland), or something like horseshoes for a map of Austin, Texas.
04. HAND-LETTERING AREA LABELS & ADDING PERSONALIZATIONS
Once the map's borders and watercolored areas have dried, Aleisha goes over the map with an artists' pen and uses her personal calligraphy style to hand-letter neighborhood names, building names, roads, and bodies of water. This is when she also adds customer's personalized highlights, which she says is one of her most favorite parts of making maps. These personalized highlights give the map so much additional meaning. She often highlights things like people's home addresses, wedding venues, engagement spots, first date locations, favorite restaurants or cafés, and landmarks. The way these personalized highlights get marked is up to the customer, it could be a heart or a star or an illustration of wedding rings to symbolize the special location. Or it could be a full address written out or the customer's nickname for that spot. These are what make Aleisha's hand-painted maps stand out from other map products on the market.
05. THE FINISHED PRODUCT
After the color has been added and personalizations have been marked, the map is ready to be packaged up and shipped to the customer. All of our maps get packaged in clear, protective plastic sleeves and with backboards to prevent damage while they are in transit to the customer. Due to this detailed creative process, our hand-painted map products typically take 4-6 weeks to be made. If you're interested in one of your own, you can browse our pre-designed city and campus maps HERE or inquire about a custom map if commissions are open.
INQUIRE ABOUT A CUSTOM MAP
All images on this page were taken by Dalton Johnson Media and Aleisha Nelson and are subject to copyright under Art By Aleisha, LLC.