This guy quit job and earns a living drawing awesome maps



In the old times cartographers were artists and many of their hand crafted maps where a piece of genius. In the era of GIS, the esthetic role of maps has been diminished. With Geo-viz web services like cartoDB or MapBox it’s easy to make a good-looking map but it’s actually an interesting data and adjusting color palette to map template that do the job.

EdinburghJoshua Peters a cartographer from Calgary had the same felling. A year ago he raised funding on Kickstarted and decided to quit his salary job to follow his dreams – to draw maps. In his one man company J.Peters Fine Mapping Co. you can order a custom, hand crafted maps starting from $80 to $400-500 for a larger piece.

Joshua’s style is clean, minimalistic, even aesthetic which makes his maps look amazing. Each map is drawn with extreme care on Canson® Artist-Series 1557® classic cream drawing paper with black Copic® archival-quality pigment ink. Joshua never copies the same map twice. Each of them is unique. He specialises in urban maps but he has been drawing topographic maps, floor-plans and many more, depending on the needs of the customer.

The process of creating each map requires a lot of work. We’ve asked Joshua to tell us how he does it:

Creating a map is a very time-consuming and meticulous job, though it’s a lot of fun. I start by choosing a source image, which changes depending on the map that has been ordered. If it is a modern city, for example, I simply use Google Maps as my reference. Once the boundaries are confirmed with the client, I bring the source map into Photoshop and prepare it for printing in actual size. Depending on the size of the map, I print the map in multiple sections which I join together into one large image. At this point, I mark my reference points (usual several hundred) and puncture each one with a stylus so that there are many small holes in the source paper. From here, I prepare the good-quality paper for the final version, lay the source map over top of it, and make a pencil mark through each reference point hole so that there are many small dots on the fresh paper. From there I simply connect the dots with ink (carefully drawing the streets or features in the right order) until the map is complete.


I must say that I envy him. His passion turned to a way he lives. Isn’t it something that each of us would like to achieve?



I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.


  1. ” I simply use Google Maps… ”
    So it’s a derived work that hasn’t sought or obtained copyright permissions?

  2. « Isn’t it something that each of us would like to achieve? » : yes and no 🙂 Passion becoming a job can mix unpleasant stuff with the passion itself and transform it into something different… I would say that it must not necessarily be a goal to achieve. To me, passion remaining passion for afterwork and holyday times is also a very good thing!

    • In a way, I agree with you. On the other hand when do for a living what you love, you will never work a day in your life…

  3. This is very much a copyright infringement for the data not in the public domain like google maps. By copying other maps you are using the data acquired by them. Original cartographers used to place deliberate errors, like rouge streets in order to trap people copying their surveyed data.
    We could all do this with a scanner and illustrator if we wished! not impressed

    • Yes, absolutely he should either use OpenStreetMaps and credit appropriately. Or draw from satellite pictures that have a permissive license.


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