Finally got around to reading Slate’s article (via kottke) on “The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See.” Essentially instead of having a computer write out all the city names and state borders and rivers etc, David Imus did it by hand.
By contrast, David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus—a 35-year veteran of cartography who’s designed every kind of map for every kind of client—did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It’s the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.
There’s something to be said about putting that much time and dedication into your craft. I spend a lot of time these days trying to figure out the best and most efficient workflow for myself, of getting things done faster. But there’s certain things that you get passionate about where time is no longer an issue, and it’s about getting it done right.