I made this map for Anna (my significant other) for her birthday, earlier this year. It’s a mashup of many of the familiar and important places (and memories) from our years together, forming a fictional city (“Anna-Ken city”). It incorporates “memorable” locations from Boston, Seattle, and Puerto Vallarta.
Aside from recording all of these memorable landmarks, I like how a map can transport you to the places it represents — I find that seeing the 2D representation of the layout makes it easier for me to remember my 3D memories of actually being in that space.
Aside from condensing all of the memories into a shared space, the mashup also incorporates a fun level of fantasy: for example, using this map, I can recall what it was like to come out of our shared apartment into its courtyard, and onto the street, and then seamlessly transition to us walking on the Boston Esplanade, which was where we would watch fireworks on the fourth of July… And where we hosted a picnic, when Anna forgot to use sunscreen and got 2nd degree burns on her hands and essentially couldn’t do anything for weeks… And where we released a makeshift funeral boat for Anna’s pet hamster, which we built out of cardboard and dry ice. (The dry ice was intended to give the funeral boat a magical foggy aura, but instead just froze the water coming in from the holes we had poked into the bottom, making the boat stay afloat faaarrr longer than we had actually planned. Oops.)
If you’re curious how I made it, I used
this website (previous link disappeared; this should work) to get maps of all of the individual places, without all of the undesired annotations (street names, bus stops, business names), which while interesting, would have really messed with integrating all of the maps together. I then used GIMP to import all of the maps into one file, with each as an individual layers. I also used GIMP to fill in the blank spaces with water, grass, concrete, and roads, so everything gelled together. Lastly, I used Inkscape to add the final touches (my own individual annotations, with legend). I sent the final file to Staples and got them to print a 24″ x 36″ poster (for ~$20, due to a promotional offer). The final product — which ended up looking pretty good if I say so myself — now hangs on our bedroom wall.