Being an illustrator for this long has allowed me some great opportunities to draw so many maps and get paid for all the fun, starting way back in 1987 when I was hired to illustrate a map for The George Washington University campus, to 2012, a map I did for one of the local papers in my hometown and the surrounding areas, Adirondack Businesses map for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. But this one is different. This Lake Placid map I'm doing now is more than just about having fun. This is me pep talking myself about going back home after having been away for almost 2 years. I have no idea what to expect, since I know for sure that I'd left home as one person and that I'm coming back as another; with positively evolved thoughts, shifted opinions and so much longing to recover from.
I grew up in a home and a town where families, to this day, stick together, so being away from home for that long is a big deal for everyone involved. I knew it was something that needed to be done, I knew I had to follow my heart - which led me miles away from home to meet a new love and visit countries I've never even thought of before. The ride has been fun but it's now time to come back home and that's what I'm preparing to do. I drew this map from memory, I drew places and things that kept home just a thought away whenever the going got tough. I wanted to remember what I was coming back to and also to show my wife, who's not been to Lake Placid before, just how stunning it is.
So, my last job while I was at home was a map commissioned by a local paper. As if to remind me - one more time - where my roots are. That job accompanied me through my travel and I only finished it in Malaysia; which was to be my home away from home for a little while. Every detail I added to that map was like one of my many doubts staring right back at me, scolding me for leaving my comfort zone and jumping into the unknown. All I knew for sure was that I was there to look for myself again and to see her, the one I wanted to spend the rest of my days loving and being loved by. The journey away from home was worth it but the transition was not easy. It was a very emotional time for me and having to draw a map of home was a very bittersweet thing to do; though that project surfaced so much doubt in me about my journey, it was one of the most timely and comforting jobs I've done throughout my career as an illustrator.
I remember reading about 'good omens' in one of Paulo Coelho's book, The Alchemist. "Omens are a language, it’s the alphabet we develop to speak to the world’s soul, or the universe’s, or God’s, whatever name you want to give it. Like an alphabet, it is individual, you only learn it by making mistakes, and that keeps you from globalizing the spiritual quest." It's coming close to November again - the day I left home with a map job in hand - I am preparing myself to go back home and the job I have in hand now is a map of Lake Placid. This feels like a 'good omen' to me. It makes me feel like I'm coming full circle and that everything will turn out fine.
I'm just at the beginning stages of this map, I'll keep you posted when the map is done - another week at most. I'll also be selling limited editions of this map and then use those funds to come back home, so please stay tuned.