It takes a very rare person to create a hand-drawn map of an entire city. Last month, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days in Melbourne with two such people: Alex Pescud and Mel Clarke.
Upon arriving with Alex at Mel’s humble studio in rural Bellarine, I was struck by the abundance of maps and boxes of merchandise in every room. Samples of Jigsaws, tea towels, prints, and calendars in various shapes, colours, sizes, and styles gave us an exciting insight into the future of our own map-making business.
Alex described Mel, producer of The Melbourne Map, as the Shakespeare of map-making, and she certainly lived up to that title with her wealth of wise words and captivating stories that could give rhyming couplets a run for their money.
One story was about her journey collecting around 2000 photos of Melbourne from a hot air balloon in the 1980’s, the OG aerial photography method to create a birds-eye view of the town. They both shared how helpful imagery from drones has been in their contemporary map-making processes, albeit without the same sense of thrill as a wicker basket in the sky.
While there has been an evolution in aerial technology, one method remains consistent. For every map they create, Mel and Alex walk the streets to capture thousands of photos from different angles. They then collate these images along with aerial perspectives to sketch a view of the town they love- a view that is impossible to see from a single photo or even in real life.
Both Alex and Mel are philosophers, entrepreneurs, movers and shakers in their own right. They also share a fantastic set of curls, perhaps a sure sign of genius. After all, famous figures such as Einstein, Da Vinci, and Galileo were all known for their curly locks. That can’t just be a coincidence.
Listening to them chat into the early hours of the morning was like mind gymnastics. They animatedly discussed everything from scanning and printing the map, to innovative business ideas for the future. They bounced ideas back and forth in a dynamic interaction filled with nods of agreement and a sense of shared understanding.
During our stay with Mel, she was incredibly accommodating and generously shared her valuable insights and experiences with us, the next generation of mapmakers. We left her studio feeling inspired and determined.
We're so excited to share our progress and show you what's next in the journey of the Wollongong map. To keep up to date on our latest news and to receive exclusive offers, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list below.