Each year the National Geographic Society sponsors a number of cartography awards to support up-and-coming student map makers. In the first part of this two-part series, we’ll meet Adam Thom (who answered our questions via email). He won the Arthur Robinson Award for Best Printed Map, a prize organized by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS). In recognition of his map, Sights and Recreation in Central California, he received $500, a copy of MAPublisher, and of course, serious prestige.
(Close-up of Adam’s map. Click for better resolution)
MWW: What is your favorite thing about cartography?
Adam: Cartography is such a useful medium to convey a message because not only do maps give facts and information, but they are also works of art.
MWW: Who is your favorite geographer, map maker, or adventurer?
Adam: My favourite adventurer is Ernest Shackelton and his incredible Antarctic adventures.
MWW: Where are you from?
Adam: I am from the wonderful town of Alliston, Ontario, but I currently live in Brisbane, Australia.
MWW: Name one or more dream jobs:
Adam: That is a tricky question – there are so many great jobs out there. My dream job would be something GIS/cartography related that allows me to help out others.
MWW: What was your undergraduate major?
Adam: I majored in Classical Civilizations at the University of Toronto, with a double minor in English and Geography.
MWW: For which class did you construct your winning map?
Adam: The map was for a geovisualization class at Fleming College [where Adam is a post-graduate student].
(Another portion of Adam’s map. Click for better resolution)
MWW: What inspired you to do this project?
Adam: I have always loved maps and my parents had a subscription to National Geographic while I was growing up. I think the maps from the magazine influenced many design choices.
MWW: What were your biggest design decisions/challenges?
Adam: The symbols were the hardest part for me, especially the ones for the dams. I ran out of time and they don`t seem to fit in. Additionally, finding the right text colour to label the mountain ranges and the San Joaquin Valley was frustrating due to the different colours under the text.
MWW: Name an important skill that you learned before college:
Adam: I want to say that I learned time management and multi-tasking and how to be a good student before university, but then I would be lying. I would have to say that learning how to cook well is the most useful skill I learned before I left home.
-Cedar Attanasio, for My Wonderful World