I recall Terry Pratchett’s words on map-making: “Map-making had never been a precise art in the Discworld. People tended to start off with good intentions and then get so carried away with the spouting whales, monsters, waves and other twiddly bits of cartographic furniture that they often forgot to put the boring mountains and rivers in at all.”
Maps are objects full of promise. Whether you are looking at a vintage map with yellowed edges, hand-drawn directions from a friend or the GPS in your car, a map holds the promise of a journey that could branch out in multiple directions. They are the joy of any traveller, and consequently a tempting career option too.
Unfortunately, most mapping is done via satellites these days, so you wouldn’t really be out examining every bend of a path armed with charcoal and parchment in a sack. But mapmaking as a profession is still a mentally invigorating choice, and there are several ways to enter this world.
The full circle: Cartography
The obvious one is to become a cartographer. The science of mapmaking is called cartography, and it is very much a science in that you need to have spatial sense and mathematical logic in place. Not to forget a degree in Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Spatial IT, Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics or even one in Cartography. Educate yourself here.
Become an illustrator
But science is not the only gateway. Maps aren’t a government organisation property, they are equally prevalent in the art world. You can see maps in artistic creations –such as what this artist does – you can see them used to illustrate articles in magazines and journals, and they are all hand-drawn before they make it to screens. So becoming an illustrator is another way in.
Animate someone else’s map
You could also animate maps created by others. Become a graphic designer or an animator and you could tap into such awesome things as mapping not only the earth’s topography but the entire cosmos itself. Check out this really cool article on intricacies of mapping the universe for inspiration.
Go with Google Maps
Lastly, there is the much-fantasised job opportunity of becoming a ‘GeoImmersive Data Producer’ for Google Earth – that would be the dude driving the coveted Google Maps Street View Car around the neighbourhood. It’s no easy task landing one of these gigs though. Becoming Google Street View Trekker is easier, in the sense that it only involves getting equipment on loan sanctioned by Google, but it still involves a tough climb into uncharted terrains. However, that’s the whole charm right? Start now by applying here.
Image Credit: Gestalten.com