Hey Fellow Mappers!
Well, it's that time again to start on another major retail map illustration project. Working off of the success of my Savannah illustrated map series (the first map in 2012 selling over 10,000 copies now), I've decided to embark on the 4th map in my retail line. This one will be the Charleston Historic District Illustrated Map. That is, in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a highly popular tourist destination on the Southeast coast of the United States and a city rich in history and architecture. This city - specifically the historic district – has been on my radar for quite some time now as many of my Savannah map customers suggested I do a map of Charleston, too, as it's just an hour away north of Savannah. Both cities are premier tourist destinations because of their National Historic Landmark Districts and the 18th and 19th-century homes and buildings within. Charleston was founded in 1670. For an artist, it has some of the toughest, most intricate architecture to illustrate. Fortunately, I only illustrate the key landmarks and essential buildings relevant to a visitor. Not every single property in the district. Or else I'd literally go nuts! Plus, I need negative space for text filler.
Here's my inspiration. A map of Charleston from 1872 in the Library of Congress.
A key factor that drove me to choose Charleston was whether there was already stiff competition in the retail marketplace, specifically in 3D birds-eye-view panoramic maps. If there was a superior map product out there, then why even do it? I'd just be wasting my time and Return On Investment (ROI) would be low. What I found were two map products that I could definitely compete against. I determined I could raise the bar in four major areas: aesthetics, textual content, print quality, and size.
1. The first retail competitor is the Charleston Illustrated Map and it is pretty damned incredible. Over several years, the artists drew every single property in the historic district. It's a 3D axonometric map that they published some 16 years ago. I left a 5-Star Amazon review of this map HERE where you can also see pictures of it. Bought one back in April, 2016 as a reference tool. Problem is, for a tourist, it is huge. It unfolds at 36 x 48". Really it is more of an architectural map meant for mounting on a wall in a frame rather than a true tourism map you can fold and unfold and carry around easily. Plus, it is outdated. And sells for almost $20.00.
2. The second competitor is The Best Little Map of Charleston, S.C. This one, well I'm not too keen on other than the content is really useful for tourists. Sorry to say, but the illustration is simply horrible, in my opinion. And it's just my opinion. Some people think it's "cute." For others it's worthy of framing. Thing is, this map has pretty much been dominating retail sales since 1996 proving that looks don't matter sometimes. It is priced right at $7.95, fits in your purse or pocket, has regional maps on it, and also is rich in marking where landmarks are and other valuable textual content. Folds open to a nice size of 17 x 25". The strength of this type of map is there are NO advertisements on it. That gives it value. And that's what gives all three of my current maps value, too. No cheesy, distracting advertisements. These kind of maps are true memento pieces of your visit. They are souvenir items that customers do not throw away, versus the cheap, cartoony advertising-dominate maps that are distributed for FREE by the hundreds of thousands. So, in this regard, this particular map product is very successful. Here's their Amazon LINK.
And so, being a little light in my commissioned work this summer, I decided to bite the bullet and officially start. The layout and look would adhere to my Karpovage Creative brand. Using my Savannah map as a Photoshop template made it easy to get things in place right away. I started with a comfortable, 3D perspective, oblique angle first, then I rendered the logotype, added all the street labels, stole some boats from my Savannah map, and started hitting the buildings. Just today I finished the shoreline in the foreground. For reference, I rely on Internet photos and especially Google Earth's 3D view where I can zoom in on a section and almost match the same angle as my map. I visited Charleston only once about 17 years ago. I plan on making another visit maybe this month – a quick 5-hour drive away. All illustration will be done in Photoshop, then exported as a JPEG to InDesign where I add labels and text before exporting as a high-res, print-ready PDF.
Alright. Enough talkin'. Here's the Charleston map on my website where you can zoom in to see the details so far. I make periodic updates if you want to follow the progress over the next year.
Thanks for giving me this venue to share my work!