• On The Map - Interviews with Cartographers 23

    Continuing our series of interviews with cartographers, this month we're talking to Brian van Hunsel, known to many as Blaidd Drwg. Brian is known for his traditional pencil and ink work as well as a great sense of humor.
    We asked him 7 questions, as we will in each interview.

    1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background...
    Hi there! My name is Brian van Hunsel, but on the Cartographer's Guild I'm better known as Blaidd Drwg. I'm a part-time map-maker and full time geek. Favourite past-times besides cartography include drawing in general, reading, gaming (both on- and offline) and binge-watching TV series.

    2) How did you get into mapping?
    I was going to say it's all Tolkien's doing, but that's only part of the story. I've always liked maps, as far as I can tell, and I've always loved imagining places. I could spend hours poring over atlases and plans of my home town. Not too long ago, while de-cluttering a drawer, I found a "map" I made when I was about 10 years old, during a rainy vacation I spent cooped up in a hotel room with my family. It was a plan of a sand castle I would've liked to build; 6 sheets of paper filled with towers and walls, sellotaped together to make one monster of a castle.

    Later I discovered Tolkien and I was completely blown away by his fictional world. I began to construct my own fictional languages (and went on to study linguistics as a result) and make maps for my Dungeons & Dragons game. At some point, a friend of mine pointed me towards the Cartographer's Guild. It was inspiring to see how incredibly beautiful maps could get. Little by little, as my own skill grew, I got more serious about making them myself.

    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?
    Both! Although I have trouble finding time to do them just for fun these days. The recent Mapvember challenge has been a great opportunity to try things and just draw maps for fun.

    I got started when someone wanted to pay me for a custom map, basically. It was sort of a surprise for me, because I hadn't gone looking for clients, and I didn't really consider my work good enough to ask money for. But it kept happening, and at some point I had to concede that if people wanted to pay me, then I probably deserved to be paid.

    4) What kind of computer setup/equipment/software do you have? Any advice or tips for learners?
    Nothing special. For software I have Photoshop, and I own a Wacom Intuos3, which I use mostly for corrections and colouring. I prefer to draw on paper. Non-digital art has a charm that's hard to fake, and I simply love the feel of pen on paper.

    Advice? Have fun! Experiment! Learn to draw! Look at other people's work. And I mean really look. Try to figure out exactly how someone's technique leads to the result you're admiring. Then try to copy that. Not that I think you should become a copying machine, but it's a good way to expand your toolbox of techniques that you use to make your own maps.

    5) What are your favourite kind of maps or favourite map makers from history?
    My favourite maps are city plans from the Dutch Golden Age, roughly the 17th century. I have a huge atlas (the best birthday gift ever) called "Atlas de Wit" that's full of large cities plans by Frederick de Wit. The detail in those maps is insane. I also love Matthäus Merian's work.

    6) What do you consider your best piece of work? How about your favourite, if different?
    My favourite piece is usually whatever I finished last. My best is a bit harder, because I'm never quite satisfied with my work, and my love for my older work diminishes rather quickly. But if I have to choose, I'd say my remake of "Valley of Ivorell", which I did for our current D&D campaign.

    7) Where can we find you on the web?
    I'm here on the Guild and you can find me on Facebook at Journeyman Maps
    and on Instagram as @brianvanhunsel.
    And of course, there's DeviantArt

    Comments 9 Comments
    1. ChickPea's Avatar
      ChickPea -
      Thanks for the interview! Your work is an inspiration to many of us.
    1. J.Edward's Avatar
      J.Edward -
      Agreed. I've loved your work since I first saw it Brian.
      Always looking forward to seeing more from you.
    1. Ilanthar's Avatar
      Ilanthar -
      Count me as a big fan too! You are one of the artists I discovered here, at the guild, and I found your work so unique and awesome...
    1. ThomasR's Avatar
      ThomasR -
      Like the others ! You also know you can always count me as one of your customers
    1. Mouse's Avatar
      Mouse -
      Your work is just gorgeous, Brian. Thank you so much for sharing your story
    1. Voolf's Avatar
      Voolf -
      You draw great maps Brian and you absolutely deserve money for your work, your style is unique and very beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story !
    1. DanielHasenbos's Avatar
      DanielHasenbos -
      Bedankt voor het interview Brian! Your maps are unique, and simply inspiring (:
    1. MIchaelArkAngel's Avatar
      MIchaelArkAngel -
      Incredible stuff!
    1. Rathaven's Avatar
      Rathaven -
      Your an amazing artist love the pen and paper look. Thank you for sharing your story.