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I discovered the world of maps while working at DeLorme Publishing in Yarmouth, Maine, in 1979-81. During my time there we published several Maine map & guides (Baxter, Moosehead, Allagash), fishing and field guides, and an all-new edition of the Maine Atlas & Gazetteer. To do my job as in-house editor and girl Friday, I had to gather information about interesting places and pinpoint their locations on maps and atlas pages. For someone with a flair for editing and an explorer's curiosity about my home state, it was a perfect job. I learned a lot about researching and compiling, exploring, publishing, editing, and—by osmosis—mapmaking.

DeLorme was moving into digital mapping, and with my projects finished I saw my way pointing Downeast, beckoned by old friends and family roots—plus all those alluring places I had read about compiling the Gazetteer! I moved to the Blue Hill Peninsula and a part-time job at WoodenBoat magazine. To round out my income I did some freelance editing for Canoe magazine, which also needed an artist who could draw maps of canoe routes. I'd always been good at art and hand lettering, had learned a bit about maps and graphic design, and in doing map illustrations for both magazines I figured out how to produce simple camera-ready map layouts.

Then I got an idea: Why not make a map of the Blue Hill Peninsula, which had lots of special places—and countless ways to get turned around? My original intent was a poster-size map, but a friend at WoodenBoat suggested, "While you're at it, print the map as a postcard too, large enough for giving directions." The artwork took me months of after-hours mapmaking. Though I based the map's lines on topos and nautical charts, I wanted it to be as accurate and detailed as only a "local" could make it, so I drove around field-checking scenic views and boat launches, asking local input. Then, finally, the thrill of getting the map printed and into stores! Now I faced a new challenge, marketing . . . but with courage and perseverance, came success. People loved the map—and would I make maps of other Maine regions? Suddenly I was a mapmaker and publisher, as well as an editor.

Since 1983 and that first map, I've worked my way around Maine's coastal and lake regions, making "map portraits" of special places—which, for me, by definition involve lots of water. My stippling and "watercolor" shading styles have evolved to highlight the beautiful intricacy of Maine's coast and lakeshores, islands and peninsulas.

I design everything—borders, symbols, graphic decorations—myself, by hand. The artwork for my two-color posters is large, labor-intensive, and fragile. Glide-Rule, X-Acto knife, light box, and proportional scale are my tools of the trade. Fine brush and black ink for coastlines, crowquill for ledges, forked brush for double-line roads, calligraphy pen for place names that are reduced, waxed, and painstakingly cut out and burnished down. . . . I push these hand graphic techniques—the previous generation of graphic arts, before the digital revolution—to the limit, I know. But I love the hands-on craftsmanship and low-tech independence of making maps this way, as a self-taught mapmaker.

Freelance editing (click here for my editorial resume) is still the other part of my work life, which I love equally—where my map skills are handy in copyediting hiking guides, land management plans, books and articles on camping and boating—so I am content with rounding out my collection of hand-drawn maps, the old-fashioned way. Luckily I know a cameraman still able to shoot the large negatives needed to bring the two-color posters into print. Old-style, hand-drawn maps have timeless appeal, and the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine now has a set of my maps in their collection.

Along with my own product line, I occasionally do custom maps for authors and publishers, land conservation and civic groups.

Although I've made a couple of whimsical maps for fun (the parody charts), I take accuracy seriously. While making each new map, I research the region exhaustively, by reading, comparing other maps of the same place (you'd be amazed how they differ!), field-checking (road rally with a friend), and enlisting knowledgeable locals as map proofers before going to press. Once in a while a place name gets changed between reprints, but I try my utmost for accuracy and completeness, without clutter. There are many moments of truth, deciding what to leave off.

An inevitable result of working with maps is a growing curiosity about place names and their origins, the geological and human history of a place, and the history of Maine mapmaking. Talking to school groups about mapmaking, I was looking for a way to make map presentations more fun and educational, and thought of a scavenger hunt. For me, gathering information to make a true and accurate "map portrait" is a kind of scavenger hunt, drawing on maps, books, and all kinds of resources, and putting it all together, and I wanted to convey that explorer's curiosity—introduce explorers of all ages to the skill of map-reading and get them to flex their deductive-reasoning muscles. This developed into a unique adventure called "Map Sleuthing Downeast," where teammates scrutinize topos, nautical charts, and other maps and guides and put two and two together to learn about local place names, history, Native American canoe routes, watersheds, contour lines, navigation, and geology. More recently, we've been exploring Downeast Maine through map close-ups and landscape photos correlated in slides.

The goal of the workshops, and of my maps, after all, is to inspire a sense of place and appreciation of our natural resources. It's a magic moment when you see the real landscape in the map, and then take what you learned from the map to see much more in the landscape.

When not mapmaking and editing, you'll find me hiking and paddling, snowshoeing and benchmark hunting, exploring the woods, streams, and ponds around Penobscot and Orland

Enjoy my maps, and happy exploring!
Jane Crosen, Mapmaker, 110 McCaslin Road, Penobscot, ME 04476    © 2016
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