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This guy quit job and earns a living drawing awesome maps


In the old times cartographers were artists and many of their hand crafted maps where a piece of genius. In the era of GIS, the esthetic role of maps has been diminished. With Geo-viz web services like cartoDB or MapBox it’s easy to make a good-looking map but it’s actually an interesting data and adjusting color palette to map template that do the job.

EdinburghJoshua Peters a cartographer from Calgary had the same felling. A year ago he raised funding on Kickstarted and decided to quit his salary job to follow his dreams – to draw maps. In his one man company J.Peters Fine Mapping Co. you can order a custom, hand crafted maps starting from $80 to $400-500 for a larger piece.

Joshua’s style is clean, minimalistic, even aesthetic which makes his maps look amazing. Each map is drawn with extreme care on Canson® Artist-Series 1557® classic cream drawing paper with black Copic® archival-quality pigment ink. Joshua never copies the same map twice. Each of them is unique. He specialises in urban maps but he has been drawing topographic maps, floor-plans and many more, depending on the needs of the customer.

The process of creating each map requires a lot of work. We’ve asked Joshua to tell us how he does it:

Creating a map is a very time-consuming and meticulous job, though it’s a lot of fun. I start by choosing a source image, which changes depending on the map that has been ordered. If it is a modern city, for example, I simply use Google Maps as my reference. Once the boundaries are confirmed with the client, I bring the source map into Photoshop and prepare it for printing in actual size. Depending on the size of the map, I print the map in multiple sections which I join together into one large image. At this point, I mark my reference points (usual several hundred) and puncture each one with a stylus so that there are many small holes in the source paper. From here, I prepare the good-quality paper for the final version, lay the source map over top of it, and make a pencil mark through each reference point hole so that there are many small dots on the fresh paper. From there I simply connect the dots with ink (carefully drawing the streets or features in the right order) until the map is complete.


I must say that I envy him. His passion turned to a way he lives. Isn’t it something that each of us would like to achieve?



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Why GIScience and geo-tech rarely talk and how open-source software provides opportunities for collaboration

TheTwoGeoCulturesThere is a lot of cool stuff happening in the Tech world, everyday there is a new product or an application that utilizes location data and analytics, the word “Geospatial” is undergoing big changes.

It’s all awesome and everything but one topic that rarely gets our attention is “What are Geographic information scientists at universities and research labs working on ?”.

 Why GIScience and Geo-Tech rarely talk?

Drew Dara-Abrams, who leads the transit and urban design team at Mapzen delivered this amazing talk titled “Why GIScience and geo-tech rarely talk and how open-source software provides opportunities for collaboration” at FOSS4G earlier this year and (thanks to Youtube) its available online. Its a really interesting talk that focuses exactly on the hits and misses of GISciences and Geo-Tech and how Open Source can help bridge the gap between researchers and Geo-Tech people and get them to collaborate.

Geo-Tech and Research

Many of us Geogeeks rarely get to know what the research world is working on at the moment, unless you crawl though Google scholar to find out about the latest research papers chances are that we take “Geo” research at the universities to be something rather well,.. academic! But there are some really cool research projects like the PetaJakarta project where researchers from Australia combined Twitter & Geospatial intelligence to help map floods in Indonesia in real-time, Dr. Hecht who one of the lecturers of  the Coursera MOOC “From GPS and Google Maps to Spatial Computing” published this interesting paper on “SubwayPS: Towards Smartphone Positioning in Underground Public Transportation Systems” and its nice to know that the next-gen geo startups like Mapzen are looking at this gap and trying to use Open Source as a means to help bridge the gap.

The Short Summary of the Talk:

Drew delivered a great talk with some interesting examples, highlighting areas where the research papers and solutions have been missed out on being used by the Geo-Tech community and some of the hits that gives us hope. Interestingly, Open Source is touted as the solution for bridging the gap and I think its a excellent idea to try and reduce the gap between GIScience and Geo-Tech.


navigationlearningThe Open Source Routing Machine makes assumptions about how navigation systems should word turning instructions and unfortunately for the users, the instructions have been implemented in a way that goes against findings from Penn State’s Human Factors in GIScience Lab on exactly the same topic.

The psychology of navigating without Navigation apps: How the first generation navigation apps impacts people’s abilities to navigate when they didn’t have the navigation apps to help them to get from A to B and again the Geo-Tech world hasn’t really used the findings of this Behavioral Geography research when developing the navigation apps.

Geographic Privacy

GeographicPrivacyIn recent times, there has been a lot of research focusing on geographic privacy – in one research paper from Standford were able to locate someone based on the smartphone battery drain. Many of these Geographic Privacy research papers are probably not being used by the Geo-Tech community to solve the LBS privacy issue (Related: The Security and Privacy issues of LBS applications).


The Hits: Color Brewer & Volunteered Geographic Information

colorbrewerThe talk also had some good examples of the hits, notably the Color Brewer tool developed at the Penn State University that is now being used by d3.js and other JS libraries.

OpenStreetMap is a great example of VGI, Research and Geo-Tech working together to create something really geoawesome. There has been a lot of research around OSM data and most of the research has been on improving the OSM data and understanding patterns behind how and why people choose to contribute and so on, for e.g. “How good is VGI data: Comparison between OSM and Ordnance Survey maps“.

How Open Source can help bridge the gap between GIScience and Geo-Tech

Where GIScience and geo-tech can best meet is, I think, in the building, refining, studying, and critiquing of open-source software. – Drew, Mapzen


Note: All the slides belong to Drew Dara-Abrams and I took the liberty of taking screenshots of the Youtube video which was licensed under Creative Commons 🙂 Thanks for the great talk, Drew! It was geoawesome!!

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