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I’ve always loved maps. Anytime a book has a map I spend hours pouring over it, imagining the world that is represented from that idealized bird’s eye view, seeing relationships between places that enhance and deepen my understanding of the story being told. When I travel I always study maps of the place I’m visiting so that when I’m on the ground in unfamiliar territory I have a reference and a context for where I am, and so rarely feel really lost. When I have to take short trips to run errands I draw up a simple map for how to get to my destination – and often I don’t even need my map to get there successfully. The act of thinking it through and then drawing it seems to etch the route into my mind.

When I saw that CreativeMornings was having a FieldTrip that involved making your own maps I was immediately sold on the idea and signed right up. I was delighted to find that the host’s interest in maps was very similar to mine (the paragraph above would probably apply to her), and maybe because of that affinity the maps that we drew for the field trip came easily to me.

Over the course of the hour we drew three maps. The first map was our route to work, the second was a place we’d explored during lockdown (in my case Decatur Cemetery, a 55 acre green space near where I live in Decatur, GA that I spend a good bit of time exploring), and the third was our ideal future world (which in my case looked very much like my current world). We weren’t given much time for each assignment so the results were more spontaneous and instinctual than carefully thought out. We were also encouraged to use surfaces that we didn’t normally draw on – thus my commute map is on the back of a check receipt, and the Decatur Cemetery map is drawn on a napkin.

What I enjoyed most was that the map making session wasn’t instructional. We didn’t learn any facts about maps or map making techniques. Instead we were asked to be creative. Since the session was early in the day it woke my brain up in a whole new way.

My takeaway? It was a great reminder that spontaneous creativity has value. There’s something to be said for not laboring over an idea and just using the tools right in front of you to get something out of your head and out into the world so that others can see and enjoy it. This is something we often do at Mixed Bag Media – researching, learning, and literally sketching out ideas to see what’s best for a specific project. Creativity with a client’s purpose in mind can take multiple iterations, but that’s part of the fun for us.

-Jim Threlkeld