Taige Zhang is president of Wellingtons Travel Co. which focuses on traditional British maps, home decor and design. Please visit Wellingtons Travel Company‘s website to see his wonderful work. I thank Taige very much for taking the time to answer these questions.
Have you always been interested in maps? When did you decide to pursue map making?
I love traveling and I don’t think there are any real adventurers out there who don’t get excited by maps. Maps to me mean exploration and adventure.
I collect tourist maps from every city I visit. I must have hundreds now but those are usually not that amazing and even the beautiful ones are cheapen by ads. Still I love them because I create emotional connections with them as I’m traveling.
How our maps got started… I was living in London and I wanted to buy gifts for friends and there were no good souvenirs. I thought what would I love? A beautiful, hand-drawn map of London in the old style that’s bound in leather like in the 1800s — a bit like moleskin notebooks. I wanted the same feeling of adventure and exploration that old maps conveyed. Nowadays, all the mystery and romance are gone from maps. It’s just practical. Not much style, quality, and art. So that’s what we are trying to bring back. The idea started in 2008 and we launched as a business in 2011.
Cover of Wellingtons Travel’s Grand Map of London.
A peek inside of Wellingtons Travel’s Grand Map of London.
Which map makers influenced you and in what way? Do you have a favorite time period or country of map origin?
My favourite is definitely Joan Blaeu. His maps were magnificent. I knew a bit about maps before the business but once we decided we were going to become mapmakers we learned and researched as many as we could. We spent days in the map room of the British Library.
We love maps from the 1600 but the 1800s style suited modern day London the best. Some other map makers who influenced us were Joseph Cross, Edward Weller, and Ralph Agas.
You can find a lot of inspirations we have : here
Early drawings that went into the making of Wellingtons Travel’s Grand Map of London.
What led you to focus on hand-drawn maps, especially the very large wall maps?
Old maps were hand-drawn and that was the level of quality and art we wanted. You need a large canvas to do that. The secret to our maps, like old maps, is it’s very detailed. It’s not something you look at once. It’s something you take in over time.
What processes do you use for creating maps and how much is pre-planned?
We try to make it as similar to old British maps as possible, as authentic as possible. It’s hand-drawn on paper then replicated digitally.
How long does it typically take you to complete a work?
This was our first so it took three years. It was a lot of part time work but it’s a very time consuming craft in general. You sometimes need to draw a building 5 times or more to get it just right.
Early version of Wellingtons Travel’s Grand Map of London.
Do you have any advice for new cartographers or map designers?
Make sure you have a lot of determination and be patient. Do a lot of research and reading on maps. It’ll keep you motivated. Connect and talk to people in the industry (i.e. GeoMob, London Mapping Festival, Society of Cartographers, etc.). This website (decorative-maps.com) is a great place to learn about mapmaking and get resources. We also have a blog ( mapblog.wellingtonstravel.com ) that highlights interesting map and design finds. They Draw and Travel ( theydrawandtravel.com ) is a nice site that you get get inspiration from. And you can see a lot of great, rare maps on Big Map Blog ( bigmapblog.com ).
Close up of Wellingtons Travel’s Grand Map of London.
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