Process and background for my found-texture fictional map project.

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Detail from the finished “Game Board” physical base map.

Projects beget projects. That’s not exactly breaking news to most creative professionals, but it’s wisdom I rediscovered when wrapping up my “Homeworlds” Instagram series. I’d used smartphone imaging apps in unintended ways to mash up found textures with digital manipulation, creating something new yet familiar: faux-satellite map aerial imagery. I also learned a few inspiring lessons about scale and perception.

Those lessons inspired me to revive and enrich a semi-dormant fictional map project of mine that had languished for decades. I started immediately, and though in two months I’ve only completed what amounts to Stage One, it’s been so creatively satisfying that I had to document the progress. …

A brief process piece about my April 2019 digital map illustration project.

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Twelve of the thirty “Homeworlds.”

Lately the Tight Ship brain trust has been attracted to unintentional or unconventional digital art: imagery created by accident, by artificial intelligence, or by using digital tools in ways they weren’t designed to be used. That kind of serendipitous creativity — the seemingly chaotic imagery of randomized errors, glitches, and other “mistakes” — is a rich and vast topic, so I started exploring it by picking up a digital map illustrations thread I’d dropped years ago on vacation in the middle of nowhere.

My family is scattered all over California, so for my mother’s birthday in Spring 2012 we met in a relatively central location: Piedras Blancas, on the coast north of San Luis Obispo. We pooled resources to rent a fancy villa near Hearst Castle, surrounded by nothing except coastal wilderness: green hills, crashing waves, barking elephant seals in the distance, and the occasional car on Highway 1. …

On creating promotional imagery that goes beyond the 5 Ws to get noticed and stoke enthusiasm.

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What do designers design when they design for designers? We can tell you! In last month’s podcast episode, your co-captains mentioned our tenure as presidents of our respective local AIGA chapters, and how that experience with the professional association for design was a critical motivation for launching Tight Ship.

Leaders of local AIGA chapters care the most about their creative community — advocating for the value of design to business, government, and society. Frequently, this advocacy happens at their local design-related events: guest speakers, film screenings, workshops, and more.

Like all events, AIGA events need branded promotional identity, and the stakes get raised when event attendees are all capable designers themselves. Every chapter and community has its own style and favorite aesthetics, so there’s always a lot to consider, but the objective is always design that is both ahead of the curve and flawlessly executed. …


Freelance designer and creative cartographer

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