• On The Map - Interviews with Cartographers 14

    Continuing our series of interviews with cartographers, this month we're talking to Jim Weaver, known to many as Diamond. If you've been on the Guild much, then you already know Diamond. A purveyor of wonderful maps in a broad range of styles, he's known for a lot of things actually.
    We asked him 7 questions, as we will in each interview.

    1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background...
    Hi there! Folks around the Blue Marble know me as Jim Weaver. I was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, but I've lived most of my life all over the great state of California, currently in the outermost marches of the Bay Area. I'm a US Navy veteran; after a while serving aboard the submarine fleet, I became a hospital corpsman (the Navy version of a medic). After a short time it became very apparent that I wasn't going to be happy treating Marines for jock itch, so I re-trained as an optician, and I've been doing it ever since. Almost 22 years now, 3 in the Navy and the rest as a civilian. Dang.

    2) How did you get into mapping?
    I've been drawing maps of fantasy lands since I was a little kid, like many here, I suspect. Though my early pen-and-paper attempts are sadly lost to the mists of time, I've kept at it for many decades. My first foray into computer mapping was with MS Paint back in the late '90s (the 1990s, you smartasses!). I first started using Photoshop about ten years ago, just before I joined the Guild, as a matter of fact.

    3) Do you create maps professionally, or for fun? If you've sold your work, how did you get started? Any fun/horror stories to share about commissioned work?
    I make maps as a hobby, first and foremost. Another big reason is in support of the roughly ten billion short stories and novels I've started and left unfinished. I rarely do commissioned work; I find the constraints of working to other peoples' dictates just no fun at all. Every once in a while something will really grab my attention though.

    I think the coolest experience I've had in mapping has actually been joining the Guild and seeing that I'm not as odd as I thought I was (at least in my love of mapping...). Horror stories? A couple of bad experiences - people backing out of a commission (always get at least half down, people!), trying to change a contract halfway through the work, things like that. I've seen dozens of my maps pirated all over the interwebs, so I guess that's a form of back-handed compliment!

    4) What kind of computer setup/equipment/software do you have? Any advice or tips for learners?
    I use a Samsung PC with a 24" display (great for having multiple maps open at the same time). It's also touch-screen enabled, which is surprisingly handy when roughing in large areas of color or marking out mountain range locations. I tried using a Bamboo tablet for a while, but the disconnect between screen and pen was too much for me to overcome. I just can't divorce my mouse, my one true love.

    I guess my number one piece of advice to folks new to mapping is: keep at it. That sounds trite and cliched, but it's no different than learning and/or perfecting any other skill - the more you do it, the better you get at it. Beyond that, don't be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from other Guild folks. In almost a quarter century on the interwebs in one form or another, this is hands-down the friendliest place I've found. Must be why I've stayed here for more than seven years!

    5) What are your favourite kind of maps or favourite map makers from history?
    Well, I gotta give props to JRR Tolkien, of course. Those Middle Earth maps I first saw at age 9 or 10 ignited something in me that hasn't gone out yet. I got into reading fantasy novels in a big way around that time, and one of the biggest factors in determining if I wanted to read a book was if it had a cool map in it. Heh. Still is, I guess.

    I'm not really an historic cartographer aficionado, but the works of the Blaeu family are pretty amazing, and I enjoy looking at maps created from a non-traditional/modern perspective, like the Greek T-maps, or upside-down world maps, things like that.

    6) What do you consider your best piece of work? How about your favourite, if different?
    Wow, that's a tough question. I think I'm constantly improving with every map I make (at least I'd like to think so), so my more recent ones are better than ones from five or ten years ago, by default. I'm pretty partial to Stormsend and Caforya.

    7) Where can we find you on the web?
    Well, right here at the Guild, of course. I used to have a DeviantArt account, but I had to shut it down because my stuff kept getting pirated. It still happens, of course; there's no way to really ever stop that kind of thing, but I keep a pretty low profile.

    If your burning curiosity has simply not been quenched by all of the above, send me a PM.

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Mouse's Avatar
      Mouse -
      You've used some really beautiful colours and textures, Diamond, and made a whole pile of totally gorgeous maps!

      What a fascinating life story!

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us
    1. snodsy's Avatar
      snodsy -
      Thanks for sharing, great story and relate alot to your story. Your maps presented here is a great collection and sampling of your work. Keep at it and glad your here!
    1. Tonnichiwa's Avatar
      Tonnichiwa -
      Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to tell us a bit about yourself. Your maps are fantastic!
    1. Bogie's Avatar
      Bogie -
      Thanks for the insight!
    1. Greg's Avatar
      Greg -
      Another great, fascinating and inspirational read! Thanks Diamond!
    1. Ilanthar's Avatar
      Ilanthar -
      So, a part of the "Diamond mysteries" is unveiled ! A very interesting interview, thanks for sharing. It was a long time ago, but If I recall well, it was one of your "googled"beautiful map that made me discover the guild... so a big thanks for that too !
    1. - JO -'s Avatar
      - JO - -
      Thanks for sharing ! What a destiny : "From underwater depths to the dizzying heights of the map maker: the dazzling rise of a diamond !"
    1. ThomasR's Avatar
      ThomasR -
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us ! That's always funny to see how broad is the horizon we all come from.
    1. Warlin's Avatar
      Warlin -
      Thanks for sharing with us your story line and your incredible various maps. Happy mapping !
    1. Sheznaki's Avatar
      Sheznaki -
      Quite interesting reading other people's thought process.
    1. Diamond's Avatar
      Diamond -
      Y'know, I never did thank you all for your kind comments. So thanks!