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Sketchbook Boot Camp: Creative Mapping, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU

This post is for our students at Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in the Sketchbook Boot Camp.

Assignment 2: Creative Mapping

“Out of these landscapes, the distinction of point of view. In a world where access to speed is access to transcendence, point of view is particularly a narrative gesture. The point of view of a landscape is no longer still, is instead a matter of practice and transformation. Modernism’s suspicion of point of view can be seen as a critique of omniscience, but a critique rooted in self-consciousness that proclaims an omniscience of its own ontology, its own history. ”

–“1. On the Description and the Book” from Susan Stewart’s On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, The Gigantic, The Souvenir, The Collection


Using your sketchbook, create a mini atlas of a place from your memory, inspired by, but not enslaved by the constraints of reality. Mapping is not only a way of transferring real information about a place, but also a means to organize ones’ thoughts, ideas, and memories. All maps are, in essence, biased, as if a mapmaker conveyed EVERYTHING about a place, a map would be overwhelming with information. Maps can allow you to see not only the real world in a different light, but also imaginary ones, as in the case of author William Faulkner, who set his books in a fictional county, Yoknapatawpha, of which he also spent extensive time drawing maps.

You could map the neighborhood you grew up in, make a map of your bedroom (and all the most important items in there with their significance), a map of your family’s favorite vacation spots, a family tree, a map showing the areas and wiring of your brain and most significant memories, a map of your body and everything that has happened to it (think scars, how it feels to hold your grandmother’s hand, an additional showing all of your favorite clothes like paper doll clothes drawn out to the side, etc.), map of everywhere you’ve traveled, etc.

Step 1: Brainstorm, make a list of ideas of what you might be interested in mapping

Step 2: Check out the ideas from other artists below or do some of your own research. Through this, consider how you might like to display this information over several pages in your sketchbook. You should also check out examples of student work along these lines from last year’s class:

Step 3: At minimum, create a larger map, a detail cut-away page, and some kind of key for your map. You can be creative in how these forms are interpreted. Feel free to use drawing, collage, etc.–anything! Use Google Maps and other resources if you wish to supplement your ideas and memories of place.


 Couple: Boston, MA , 11X14", Hand-cut road map, 2009


2 thoughts on “Sketchbook Boot Camp: Creative Mapping, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU”

  1. Hey Blake and Hannah, I was just wondering if you had any links on how to bind the larger books. I vaguely remember how to do the binding part but as we both know, I kinda failed that part. I appreciate everything you both did for us at Gov School and I’d like to apply what I’ve learned to a new project.
    Thank you,

    1. orangebarrelindustries

      Wow–so sorry this is such a late response! I fell away from our blog for a while. Thank you so much for your kind comment! If you want to send me an email I can send you some PDF handouts on how to do it hannah.march.sanders AT gmail DOT com

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