For the past seven years, illustrator Lena Corwin‘s quirky, colorful maps have been a regular feature of Elle Decor magazine‘s monthly city portraits. Corwin’s interpretations of city hubs include simplified, angular renderings of landmarks positioned among thick yellow lines of streets and thoroughfares.
Not exactly made for precise navigation, her maps are instead a combination of city plan and city fantasy.
For April, Corwin’s map of Barcelona accompanies Andrew Ferren’s story on the city, but that’s not the only place you’ll find her work this month. Forty of her maps–20 of U.S. cities, 20 from around the world–have been collected in the aptly titled “Maps,” published through Other Books, the small publishing company she cofounded with Maria Vettese.
HomeMagascene first read about Corwin’s new book on the Design*Sponge blog, then decided to track her down to find out more about the book and the maps we’ve been enjoying for all these years.
HomeMagascene: How many maps have you done for Elle Decor since beginning in 2004?
Lena Corwin: Sixty-nine; I have drawn a map for each issue for the last seven years. (Elle Decor publishes nine issues per year.)
HM: How long does it take you to create a map?
LC: Usually about six to eight hours, plus time for revisions.
HM: What’s your process/how do you start?
LC: I initially looked at vintage books for inspiration; I love old children’s books. For creating each map, I start by tracing a real map of the city to draw the roads, then I look at photos of the buildings, monuments, and other points of interest.
HM: What materials do you work in and how large are your original works?
LC: My original works are about double the size in the book. I use a Wacom tablet to draw directly in Photoshop. I like to play around with the shape and style of the icons in the map–but still keeping them true to reality.
HM: What led you to create Maps, the compilation?
LC: People kept asking me to turn the maps into a book!
HM: Your last map for Elle Decor is scheduled to run in the May issue. What are you working on now?
LC: I’m starting to plan new projects now, although I’m still on maternity leave for the most part. I have several new book ideas taking shape!