I love interactive maps. And I love old-fashioned, hand-drawn treasure maps. When I moved to Vashon Island, WA, in the fall of 2003, I realized that this charming community was a good candidate for me to try out an idea for a homegrown, locally-illustrated, comprehensive map directory for the web.
So in the spring of 2004, I put out a call to the local artists to see if I could find someone to illustrate the map in an affectionate, childrens'-story-book style. I found 22-year-old Annie Brule (click here to go to her web site) who grew up on the island. For a $150 deposit, she drew three drawings for me, so I could take the concept around to the merchant community and find whether I could get them to sponsor the development of the site. I took Annie's drawings, scanned them, and made a physical book that I could take around and show to the merchants of downtown Vashon. The merchants were overjoyed. A lot of them already knew and loved Annie; that helped a lot. My initial goal was to get 25 of the approximately 100 downtown merchants on board. But 65 of them signed up!
With just a marked-up set of Annie's drawings and some verbal explanation of our plans, I raised $5000 from the merchants. With these funds I paid Annie the rest of her fee, and hired a programmer to turn it all into a web site.
It was a delightful project, a sweet combination of art and technology, and the whole island seemed to appreciate it. We received lots of fan mail. The local paper did a big front page feature on it. It became a popular site almost immediately.
I sold VashonMap.com to the Sallen Group, a local rival, in 2007. VashonMap.com has since been significantly altered. The hand-drawn maps are still on the site, but they are no longer interactive.
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