Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Map Maker, Map Maker...

 When I received a note from Lauren telling me about her map creations—"As a child there are some things that have stuck with me through to adulthood: maps, sewing, and thinking about color"—I knew I had to learn more because that was a combination of interests that I had never heard before. Lauren says that she "removes maps from their original contexts to reinvent them, creating aerial landscapes with wax, ink, watercolor and tea. Often times, my maps are made through free association. Other times I use antique maps as an inspiration, rediscovering places that were then, newly explored." So with that as our introduction for the day, let's here more from Lauren herself.

Name: Lauren Montanaro Norster

Why do you find maps so interesting to recreate?
Maps and globes are something I've been able to stare at and become lost in since I was quite small.  I find them to be beautiful and intriguing, and recreating them or inventing my own allows me to travel somewhere while in the drawing process, creating my own world.  I also like to incorporate pieces of my day into maps, making them a way of recording time and memories.

Is this your full time work? If not, what do you do during the day and how does this work help you balance that?
No, although I've been spending a lot of time creating art - I've challenged myself to draw at least 50 pieces for the month of November!  I went to school for Elementary Education, and right now I'm working one-on-one with a 12 year old home schooler.  Teaching is definitely another creative outlet for me, and she's an artist too -- so we have that in common.

Explain the process of making one of your prints so we can get a sense of what goes into them.
Usually I'll start off by looking through one of my many map books, searching for a line or some topography that catches my eye.  Then, I put layers of paint down, and start to mix my own lines with the lines of the map. Sometimes I'll use multiple maps as references, sometimes only one, or sometimes none, working just with whatever strikes me. I like to work small, with lots of detail, so even though the pieces are small, a lot of time and thought goes into them.   

Where do you find your inspiration?
Aside from other maps, I find that a lot of inspiration comes when I least expect it -- I'll notice a shape I like in rocks while I'm taking a walk, or be inspired to draw maps involving stars while watching a show that takes place in space.  Whenever I'm stuck, checking out new posts on my blog reader is always inspiring -- seeing new work and creativity always helps!

What's one item on your holiday wish list?
I live in Maine, and really could use a new pair of snow boots!

Lauren has been so kind to offer free shipping to anyone who mentions "Things We Make" in the etsy check out, so hop on over and see what else she's made. Also, for the month of November she's challenging herself to make 2 drawings a day, so definitely stay tuned to see what she's creating!


  1. Brilliant! I have two of Lauren's prints and love love love them. Must frame and put on the wall - top of my to do list. Also, when I shot Lauren and her husband's engagement photos last year my favorite was of them examining yep, you guessed it, a huge atlas.

    Excellent piece, Lauren and Amy. If I see any good boots in my travels I'll let you know!