Mapping My Past

O'Donnell Square in CantonInspired by a recent trip home, I have designed a map of my old neighborhood, Canton. Located in East Baltimore City, Canton is a historic neighborhood featuring brick row houses overlooking the harbor. Canton is extremely walkable with numerous bars and restaurants dotting the neighborhood. On Sundays in the fall, everyone sports their Ravens purple and in the spring you can spot the Oriole Bird making his rounds to drum up support.

My dogs and I walked these streets over the years watching the neighborhood change. Before I started the map, I sketched little doodles representing my favorite parts of Canton from crabs and sailboats to Natty Boh. I included many of these sketches on the map to highlight different locations. Mama’s On the Half Shell is represented by an oyster. Dangerously Delicious Pies is depicted by a large slice of chocolate pie. I included the Black Eyed Susans as a decorative element since they are the state flower of Maryland and grow like weeds throughout the city in the summer.

Sketches for the Canton Map

After much deliberation, I hand painted the street names featured in the map with gouache, an opaque watercolor, to give the map a more personal feel. Here is one of the many sheets of letters that I painted. The street names were scanned and later assembled in Photoshop.

Brush Lettering with gouache

The finished product…

Illustrated Map of Canton by Meg Link

The map went through many iterations as I added and subtracted illustrations and experimented with different typefaces. I wanted the map to have a playful but personal feel. The border around the map alludes to the brick row houses that populate the neighborhood. The red, yellow and black color palette is also a nod to the Maryland state flag.

After completing this map, I am excited to start my next map, Fells Point.