I was excited for Week 4 of Lilla Rogers‘ Make Art That Sells class– Editorial week. Prior to this class, I wasn’t really sure what editorial illustration is. It turns out it’s illustration for magazines, newspapers, books– anything editorial that has a need for an accompanying illustrated piece to depict the concept or content of a written article.
Our assignment for editorial week was to make a map of the town or city you live in. Maps are constantly being commissioned, especially for magazines, so this is a lucrative market to make art for.
Making an illustrated map has long been on my long list of to-do’s for my portfolio. I’ve already made one before (Manila: Do as the Locals Do) but that was a couple of years ago and I’m not happy with it anymore:
I did that in 2011 for They Draw and Travel as an entry for a contest they were having. I had a fulltime job then, but I squeezed this into my schedule, giving up sleep and doing this entire map in less than 24 hours (and to me, it shows!). It ended up being one of the top 11 entries and the funny thing is, Lilla Rogers was the guest judge for that contest.
From the They Draw and Travel Facebook page
I was flipping out then that LILLA “really liked” MY map… LILLA, who runs an agency I hoped to be part of one day! Little did I know that two years later, I’d be here, taking her class 😛 I didn’t win that contest but the thrill of being part of Lilla’s 11 was a good consolation prize 😛
But back to present. The editorial map assignment was a chance to revise and update my map to be in tune with my current style now. I decided to make a map of Metro Manila (composed of 17 cities) instead of focusing on just Parañaque City (where I live– still within Metro Manila), to cover more interesting points. My 2011 map for They Draw and Travel concentrated more on the local tourism aspect of Manila, but this time, I wanted a more personal map.
To guide me about what to include in my map, I asked myself, “If a friend from another country came to visit me, which parts of Metro Manila do I point out and talk about?” I ended up with a long list covering tourist spots, places I had a connection to (where I worked, where I went to school), and where all the good shopping is.
I started with research, using Google Maps as a starting point. Lilla points out we have it easy now, thanks to technology. In the “olden days,” they actually had to go to the library and do actual research. Eww. So thank you for your wonderful, wonderful technology, Google.
Manila is dirty, grimy, chaotic, and polluted. I can say those things without public backlash because I’m not Dan Brown… and because it’s the truth. But more than being just dirty or polluted, Manila is also lively, bustling with activity, quirky, vivid, and INTERESTING. I sort of felt bad for my classmates who live in small, “nothing” towns (their words) as they admitted they were having a hard time with their map as there was “nothing interesting” or that the main attraction of their town was “a Bed, Bath and Beyond.” I mean, they probably like living where they do, despite the lack of interesting things going on. But lucky me, I thought. I may live in the third world but it’s an always interesting third world and I never would want to live anywhere else. Just don’t remind me how we get 20 typhoons a year and our fair share of floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
I wanted my map to exude a raw, organic vibe as I felt it was fitting for Manila’s character. These class assignments are a good opportunity for experimentation where you please only yourself and not a client, so I decided to try traditional media to capture some of that raw vibe. I drew the city names and the icons in colored pencil and gouache.
I scanned them in, digitally collaged the scanned elements in Photoshop, and wrote in little annotations directly using my drawing tablet. I gave the land mass a slight, earthy texture for that raw, unclean look. Because Manila is unclean. LOL. I think I managed to capture Metro Manila’s vibe in this map. The uneven and dynamic lettering, the casualness of the handwritten notes, and the organic look the icons painted in gouache gave to the piece all contributed towards the look I was aiming for.
I’m pleased with how this map turned out as I managed to translate and capture on paper/computer what I was imagining in my head, and that doesn’t happen all the time.
Making maps is hard work (a lot of my classmates bailed on the assignment as it’s a lot of work. I almost did, too. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to “represent my country!” LOL), but the amount of time you put into it and seeing the end result makes it worthwhile. If I had all the time in the world, I could go on and on making more localized and specific maps for the more interesting parts of the city (downtown Manila!) or the Philippines (all the tourist spots!), but this is a good start. I’ll just add those other map-making plans to my long list of to-do’s.
Next up is Week 5, the final week (aww!): Party Paper.