The Story Behind The Map Prints







Evelyn Henson

For the past 6 years, the largest and best selling series on my site has been the map prints! Since y'all love these so much, I thought I'd share how the series began. The idea seems simple now that I've created so many of them (150+ and counting), but it took almost a year of on/off sketching to come up with the design I now sell. 

As a stress reliever / creative outlet, I drew or painted (almost) every day my senior year in college. I filled stacks of sketchbooks with all kinds of subject matter, including my first ever map illustration (found in the instagram archives circa 2012!). I had been pinning different maps on pinterest and thought I'd experiment by drawing my own version. I don't know about y'all, but I love celebrating the places I've lived in and traveled to. One of my favorite ways to celebrate is (obviously) through art. I contemplating painting an international destination like Paris, Rome, and Madrid like most of the art I was looking at did, but, when I couldn't settle on a single place, I decided to draw my school (Furman University in Greenville SC). With nothing but a black sharpie and a few paint pens, I created my first "map" design. 

As you probably noticed, that piece (shown in the first photo above) is SO DIFFERENT from what my maps have since grown into---the black coloring and graphic elements look nothing like my happy, colorful style. I still loved the idea of a map, but knew my execution could be better. When I opened my Etsy shop a couple months later (2013), selling a Furman University print seemed prudent since the majority of my customers were college friends. So, using the layout from my sharpie & paint pen version as a guide, I painted a more whimsical and bright version of my Furman map. 

The second illustration is much more "me." It has happy colors, carefully illustrated buildings, and the whimsical purple splotches in the background are what led to the dotted pattern now in the background of all my map prints. After a few months, I decided to add more places. Creating new map prints was and is extremely time consuming; there's so much research, sketching, and proofing involved behind the scenes. The first ten cities were Atlanta, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chicago, Florence, Jackson Hole (discontinued), Paris, NYC, San Francisco, and London (fun fact- London is the only print to have stripes instead of dots). Since then, the series has grown to include 150+ places and has been turned into a myriad of gift items like mugs to tea towels. In 2017, Southern Living Magazine even spotlighted the series in their Holiday Gift Guide!

The process behind the map print series exemplifies the heartfelt way I approach almost all my art; I'm most inspired by the things, people, and places in my everyday life. The maps started because of my love for where I was at that point in time, and the series has grown solely because I want y'all to be able to celebrate the places that are special to you too. Not only that, but I want y'all to be able to celebrate them in a way that speaks to YOU; and that's why the later versions are filled with so much more fun-loving color and whimsy than my first draft. I don't just pick up the paintbrush once (or in this case, a sharpie) to create; it's a never-ending thought process about what you want to see in your home and what that looks like. As you look at this map series (whether on my site or in your home), I hope the paintings fill you with joy and inspire you to reflect on the places you've been and the places you have yet to go; both are equally bright! 


Thankful for your support! XX


If you're interested nominating a favorite place for a future map print design, email the name of the place along with 8-12ish landmarks/attractions/eateries to support(at)evelynhenson(dot)com. While I am unable to follow up with each nomination due to the large volume received, your email will be kept on file for reference in case of a future design.