Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Carl Churchill, Back Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am a cartographer working for Woodwell Climate Research Center. I came to GIS from a very humanities-focused background, with a history degree and even brief training as an archeologist. I have dabbled in a lot of things over my brief professional career – including a few gigs as a stand-up comedian. Currently I handle maps for our scientific presentations, communications releases, and projects with 3rd party clients. I also continue to do freelance work, where I enjoy helping organizations and individuals tell their own stories with a bit of a design leg-up from my end.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I was deep in the #30daymapchallenge and running low on ideas (as it happens), and was browsing random datasets. The Spilhaus projection had just been released for ArcGIS Pro, and I knew I wanted something that could showcase it. Spilhaus is best used to showcase the connectivity of the world’s oceans. I stumbled on a dataset showing chlorophyll concentrations. A few things drew my eye here – first it was sufficiently high resolution enough I knew global features would be easily identifiable in it, it was complex enough to be visually interesting without turning into noise, and it was obviously a relevant dataset to oceans.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: Normally, when you are trying to take a raster from Pro and drop it into Blender, you want to convert it to a 16bit image and do some calculation to max out the range of pixel values to avoid terracing. However, here the values in the raster were so complex, and the final image was not going to show anything necessarily ‘realistic’ (unlike terrain where terracing creates an obvious difference with what you would expect), I merely projected it into Spilhaus, cranked the dpi, and exported it as a .tif like any ordinary image. I set that up as my displacement layer in Blender, converted the raster in Pro to a colored gradient with a scheme I liked, and then layered the two. I also exported a layer of grey ocean areas which I rendered without displacement, and then in Photoshop I combined everything with masking. After that, the map was done with some minimal labeling and creating a legend.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Jessica Baker, July

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I work at Ordnance Survey which is Great Britain’s national mapping agency, as a Technical Relationship Consultant specialising in GeoDataViz. My 9-5 essentially involves using geospatial data to make maps and visuals for all sorts of things, from national park anniversaries, to big sporting events, and supporting the public sector with responses to national events such as covid.

Outside of work I am also an artist, which is pretty relevant to this map! I make art using all sorts of mediums but especially love printmaking. I picked it up about 2 years ago as a way to get creative outside work and have since launched an online art business which I absolutely love.

I find mapmaking combines two of my favourite things – the outdoors and art – into a lovely geography sandwich. Tasty…

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: My main inspiration for mapping Antarctica in lino was my passion for protecting the polar regions from the climate crisis. They’re warming at drastically faster rates than anywhere else on earth, and as a result are passing environmental tipping points we didn’t even know existed. It’s pretty scary to be honest.

But on a lighter note! I wanted to make this map to show the beauty of Antarctica – which one of my university lecturers described as ‘Earth’s last true wilderness’ owing to its extreme remoteness and lack of human influence. There’s some incredible plants, animals, and geographical processes occurring there and I wanted to highlight them all together and emphasise how much of a unique place it is.

There were two things which tipped me from having the idea to make a map of Antarctica, into actually doing it. The first was a book given to me by my mum, of paintings of Antarctica done by an artist called Edward Seago. The paintings are all quite monochrome, with lots of blue and grey shades. I’m very partial to a monochrome map too, hence why I just used blue ink for this one.

The second and probably most influential factor in this map was a handmade scrapbook I found in the back of a 2nd hand bookshop a few years ago. It was made by the mother of an explorer who went on an expedition to Antarctica, and it’s full of pictures, drawings, letters and scientific reports from the expedition. It’s a very cool book and includes a lot of anecdotal stories which spurred me on to create this map.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: As I’m sure you can see, this isn’t your typical GIS export map – but the geographer in me wanted to make sure it was still as accurate as it could be. I used data from the website Quantarctica, as well as historic maps of the continent to trace the central map which sits in the middle of the design. As a result it shows real data, and even geographically accurate contours.

In terms of tools used – I used a relief printmaking method which involves carving away from a piece of rubber-y lino using a sharp gouge tool. Because of the level of detail I wanted to include, I knew it would have to be fairly big, and so the design is carved as A3 size and then printed onto A2 paper. The carving was really fiddly at times, but I find the process quite meditative – you can see it being done in action here.

Once the design had been fully carved out of the lino block, I ink it up with a hard roller. It is then hand-printed onto the paper by applying pressure onto the back of the block. It’s quite a manual process, but I haven’t shelled out to buy my own printmakers press just yet! 

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Samara Ebinger, June

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I’m a GIS Specialist at the City of Worcester, Massachusetts. I just recently started last November. I’ve been in the GIS field for a long time but in different capacities, working for a consulting firm, non-profits, state government, and now local government. I love learning new things and trying out new techniques in mapping and GIS. And I have to say that I’ve learned so much just by being on Twitter the past few years and coming across tutorials that the good folks in the geospatial community have put together – this was an important factor in the creation of my calendar map.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: For the past few years, I’ve been interested in different ways to visualize topography and in New Hampshire (where I used to live until recently), you have the White Mountains in the northern part of the state, so that’s been my place of choice to map as of late.

Lately I’ve also been drawn to the aesthetic look of fantasy maps – they have that magical and ethereal quality that I was going for in this map – trying to convey the beauty and magic of a real place (the White Mountains) in that way.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I made this map using QGIS and the technique to visualize the topography is based on a tutorial by Robin Hawkes to create hachures, which I tweaked for a combined hachure & contour line effect. I created the background shaded relief layer using a combination of Blender, GDAL, and QGIS.

Data sources I used are:

  • Elevation data: NASA SRTM; US Geological Survey
  • Trails: National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office and Appalachian Trail Conservancy; U.S. Forest Service
  • Shelters: National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office and Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Water features and park boundaries: OpenStreetMap
  • Roads: New Hampshire Department of Transportation
  • Mountain peaks: I created this point dataset myself using a combination of sources including USGS GNIS data.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Kate Berg, May

Kate Berg's Happiest States Map

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am GIS lead at the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). I’ve been in the field for almost 10 years since my first GIS class at UCLA in 2012. Since then, I’ve taught GIS at the university level and worked in the non-profit, private, and public realms. I currently act as outreach chair for URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of Young Professionals. You can find me on Twitter (@pokateo_) hosting the weekly #GISchat conversation as well as creating and sharing original map-related memes (#mappymeme) as ways to unite and uplift the geospatial community.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map for the 2020 #30DayMapChallenge for Day 4: Hexagons, and then modified it slightly to work better for this calendar. I had found this dataset prior to the Challenge and was looking for an excuse to make something with it. The data tries to identify the happiest states in America based on several indicators, including emotions, “physical-ness”, work, and community. 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I used ArcGIS Pro to create this map. The data comes from the Happiest States in America by WalletHub and I also used the US Hex Cartogram by John Nelson (download here). There was so much information in the happiness dataset (an overall rank as well as emotional and physical well-being rank, work environment rank, and community and environment rank) that I had to get creative on how to show it. It couldn’t be as simple as one hexagon per state…it needed four overlapping hexagons. I ended up playing with offsets to get the desired effect and I’m pretty happy with it – though apparently I live in a pretty averagely happy state (Michigan).

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Inge van Daelen, Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I started working in the cartography field about 2.5 years ago. I started part-time at Red Geographics as I had a full time job on the side. I studied Chinese and Tourism Destination Management, so I didn’t have a background in GIS at all. Luckily, my friend (and boss) Hans van der Maarel helps me out and I’ve learned a lot. I now provide training in (geo)software packages, give presentations about field-related topics, take on cartographic projects and recently became an FME Certified Professional and Trainer.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: We used to have Friday Funday at the office, where we would try new things. Things that aren’t necessarily productive, but fun and related to what we do. Hans found a tutorial online, made by Tom Patterson, on editing raw satellite images. I immediately became hooked. We decided to create our own webshop selling products with the prints we’ve made, because we wanted to share what we created. I usually go for bright colors, not true to nature per se. Sometimes though, you don’t need to edit them at all, our earth is absolutely stunning as it is! I also make my own accessories, use the images as a background for phones and computers, and we print our images on the notebooks and business cards we hand out during training. Choosing which image I want is often the most difficult part.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is downloaded from the USGS website and then edited in Photoshop. I merged the red, blue and green band together and started the editing. I added two more layers to be able to edit the water and land separately and enhance the quality with another layer. By then, the images were around 16K in quality, so I reduced them to 6-8K, otherwise the files were too big to handle.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Jonathan King, January

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: Originally from New England in the U.S., I’m a second year student in the International Master of Science in Cartography degree program, which takes place in Europe at the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Vienna, the Technical University of Dresden, and the University of Twente. Probably like most people reading this article, I’ve been interested in cartography for a long period of my life. Since elementary school, some of my favorite things to do have included perusing the content of globes, atlases, and maps and making maps (or at least attempting to) of real and imaginary places. For my undergraduate education, I completed a B.A. in geography partly because I like maps, but perhaps more than anything because I like a lot of things and geography seemed like a sufficiently broad and synergistic discipline to allow me to pursue a lot of interests. Following graduation, I completed two cartography and geospatial analysis internships and then spent about ten years working in a few jobs that often had little to do with geography – a fact which might be considered hipsterishly ironic because I spent the majority of that time working for National Geographic. I also occasionally did work with maps in volunteer and recreational contexts. 

At some point a few years ago, I decided I wanted to pursue more formal education in cartography and geoinformatics and spend some time living in Europe (my Europhilia is nearly as strong as my cartophilia), so I enrolled in my current program. In addition to maps, I really like reading, traveling, attempting to learn new languages, playing the bassoon, and trying unusual foods. I’m honored by my map’s selection for inclusion in this wonderful calendar alongside the amazing work of other cartographers. Its selection helps me confirm for myself that I’ve likely taken a step in a good direction by studying cartography at the master’s degree level.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map last spring for a class called Project Map Creation, which is a degree requirement for my current study program. It is taught by professional cartographer Manuela Schmidt, to whom I’d like to express strong gratitude for the help she gave me while I worked on the map at the Technical University of Vienna. Students enrolled in the class are required to spend a semester creating an analog thematic map about a topic of their choice. In past years when this course was offered, many students made maps showing cultural features of the places they’re from. I decided I wanted to do the same thing. The thought struck me that Maine’s lighthouses might be an interesting focus for my map: They are culturally iconic of the place where I’m from and have a large number of spatial attributes suitable for visualization on a map and ancillary infographics. 

I often kayak along the ocean coastline of Maine’s Midcoast region in the early evenings when lighthouses first begin to flash their lights. I’m curious to learn the geographic locations of the lighthouses associated with the lights I see, as well as general information about the lighthouses’ histories and how they can be used for navigation. I thought other kayakers and casual boaters might be similarly curious, so I created the map with these people in mind as target users. The map shows the geographic locations of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses, the colors and flash patterns of the lights’ primary lights, and the oceanic spaces where each light is generally visible for an observer two feet above sea level (such as a kayaker) during a night with good weather conditions (meteorological visibility of ten nautical miles).

As is the case with all maps, this one excludes information about the geography it depicts, including some I’ve come to think is important. In addition to the primary lighthouse lights the map provides information about, small sector lights, whose colors, flash patterns, and visible ranges differ from those of the primary lights, shine from some of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses. When making my map, I decided not to include information about these sector lights, since I couldn’t quickly figure out how to do so in a legible and aesthetically pleasing way. I considered their exclusion an appropriate generalization for the map’s scale. However, in retrospect I’ve questioned this decision because lighthouse sector lights help mariners avoid dangers to navigation. My exclusion of this information likely means that while the map is appropriate for use as an art object published in a calendar, it should not – despite its title and original intended use case – actually be used for navigation.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: My sources include:

I carried out geoinformation pre-processing in ArcGIS pro and cartographic styling Adobe Illustrator.