Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Many Maps Could A Map-Maker Make if a Map-Maker Could Make Maps?

A few weeks ago Christine asked how many maps I've created. Wow-- good question-- I'd never stopped to count them! (It's a funny sensation-- you spend years with your nose close to the drawing board and when you suddenly look up at the big picture it dawns on you how much you've accomplished.)

So I pulled out my handy dandy pencil, pad, calculator, and accounting book. This is what I came up with:

I started my business almost 16 years ago, in mid-1993.

In the beginning I did a lot of design work for my former employer and others. The map illustration work grew slowly for the first few years, until it finally took off and I was able to do it exclusively.

And in 16 years I've created:

508 maps!


That's a roughly accurate number, and it's probably higher, since in the beginning I did a lot of samples for my portfolio. (And some assignments were for multiple maps, which, silly me, I didn't record.)

Some stats:
The least amount I've done in any one year is 9 (not counting 2 the first year-- but that was only a 6-month period.) That happened twice-- in 1994 when I was still starting out, and in 2003. A lousy year.

The most I've ever done in one year is this year-- 66!

It averages out to 33.5 maps per year, since I began.

The number of maps doesn't necessarily correlate with how much money I've earned in any particular year, since they've been of all different sizes and complexities-- not to mention the depressing fact of falling illustration budgets over the last 10 years.

But I've survived-- through babies being born, house moves, heart attacks, bursting economic bubbles (and faulty appendixes, oh my!) It's been an interesting ride, and right now it looks even more challenging than ever. But I'm an optimist. I think you have to be, in order to attempt to make a living as an artist. (Or maybe I'm just delusional. Either way, it keeps me going.)

I have to say that when I quit my full-time job I was terrified of the uncertainty of freelancing. But I was fortunate to have a lot of supportive freelancer-friends to go to for advice.

And at some point, after a few years, it dawned on me that I'd really learned how to navegate this crazy juggling act of a life from the best-- my Dad-- who loves what he does for a living and who'd always managed to keep his own business going, though all sorts of ups and downs. We were as happy and normal kids as any, despite the pressure that he was under. In my opinion, that's what success is all about. (Thanks, Dad!)


Carli said...

Congratulations Jennifer
I am glad you have had success.

Phyllis Harris said...

Wow! Very impressive.

We freelancers have to lift one another up so we can keep moving forward. Thanks for the inspiring words.

I'm feeling very blessed at the moment to have work. :o)

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

wooohoooo 508 maps Jen!!!! That is awesome!! Think about it, there are 508 beautiful maps out there created by your talented hand :o)

Congratulations my friend, I say that is really cool :o)

Vivian Mahoney said...

The map illustration work sounds so cool!! And impressive! And detailed!

I love how you credit your Dad for your ability to manage the chaos and straighten it out to do what you love. Keep it up!

Jennifer Thermes said...

Thanks, Carli! I think success is all in how you define it, you know?

And thanks, Phyllis. I totally agree! The more we can help each other out, the better. :-)

Aw, gracias, Alicia. Now I'm blushing. ;-)

It is fun, Vivian. I get to travel the world vicariously! And thanks-- my Dad is a really good person. :-)

Kelly Light said...

What a great outlook your Dad passed on! - Follow your heart always! -congrats -Kel

Barbara O'Connor said...

Well, I'm impressed! I love your maps!

When are you going to make a map tablecloth? :-)

Tom Barrett said...

Great story Jennifer. That's a lot of maps, and a lot of geography lessons (wanted or not :P )

My question would be what was the biggest and smallest maps you have created.

Jennifer Thermes said...

Hi Kelly-- Good advice, right? :-)

And thanks, Barbara! Hey, that's a great idea! I could sell them on ebay!! ;-)

Thanks, Tom! Yes, and I must say, I am pretty good at geography as a result!

Let's see-- the smallest would be spot illustrations of maybe 2-3 inches. One of the largest was a map of North and South America for a poster. The artwork was limited to the size of my board, about 23x39, and then the client enlarged the map even more.(It takes a long time to do that size in pen & ink!)

Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

wow, wow, wow! that is a lot of maps! very very impressive. i can't imagine painting 66 maps in one year, that's more than one per week! were you surprised when you added them up. now if anyone every says, there's not much you can do with a map, you can say, there's 'lots' you can do i've painting 750 (i'm looking ahead here, sending positive vibes for a busy 2009). LOL congrats!!

Jennifer Thermes said...

Hi Christine-- Yes, I was very surprised about this year's number! Most of the year just went along like usual and then I was smokin' busy over the summer, which is usually my slow time. This fall has been... well... like I said... I'm an optimist...