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The birth of Mapology Guides

I'm not sure that many of you know about how Mapology Guides came to be... so I thought I'll share a little.

The beginnings of Mapology Guides

I’ve always been a big advocate of the creative process. As a designer, this is in my DNA. It all started many MANY years ago. I was looking how to combine my passion for psychology with design. Self-help or mental health were not in the mainstream. It was all still behind closed doors. Ideas were brewing in my mind. But how and where to start? Well, that journey took a long time!

I went through so many different ideas - some of them far too big and scary. Some others would have needed a huge injection of investment. I've always been a believer in starting small. The idea of a 'startup' as we know them today was not on my agenda at all. Far too stressful, far too ego driven. Far too everything. I wanted to be self-funded and am proud that I still am.

One thing was clear to me, my need to collaborate and to find a partner in crime. This was not something I could or wanted to do on my own. So one day I asked my good friend Mike Abrahams to come on this journey with me. Thankfully he agreed:-) 

The long journey of understanding what we were doing began. I knew I LOVE maps. Why maps? Maps present information about the world in a simple, visual way. They lend order to complex environments and are beautiful. I was curious as why do they have to be just geographical? Surely you can apply mapping to various topics.

There was nothing similar out there. How do you create an illustrated fold out-map on themes like a coaching session? Honestly, looking back, I have no idea how we did it. All I know is that the process was thrilling.

We invited illustrators and writers to help us with the first series of three Mapology Guides. We decided to pick very different topics.

I'm sharing various ideas for the front covers. A lot of thought and time goes into designing every aspect of a product.

Some more ideas for 1st series of covers for Mapology Guides

Ideas for 1st series of covers for Mapology Guides

First set of Mapology Guides

Mike was a big animal lover with two dogs and cats. We decided to create a map for how to best choose a pet for a family.

For the Pets Mapology Guide we invited Nanna Koekoek for the illustrations and Sarah Farley for the writing. This Mapology Guide has been retired and is no longer in circulation.

Pets Mapology Guide


Pets Mapology Guide layout

Pig illustration for Mapology Guides

Biography illustrations for pets Mapology Guide

Pets Mapology Guide

People who know me will know I love giving 'wanted' gifts and 'naively' thought a Mapology Guide on the art of gift giving was a good idea. 

For the Gifts Mapology Guide we invited Miranda Sofroniou for the illustrations and Simon Rodway (who sadly has passed) for the writing. This Mapology Guide has been retired and is no longer in circulation.

shapes collage for Mapology Guide

test outlays for Mapology Guides


Cover for gifts Mapology Guide

Gifts Mapology Guide

Gifts Mapology Guide

And then there was the coaching map - the subject of self help and mental health which was my preferred route. Well, unfortunately the pets and gift maps did not stick, but fortunately our coaching map did! My hunch was right. The Zeitgeist of self-help had finally arrived and became more mainstream.

For the What's Bugging You? Mapology Guide we invited Jenni Sparks for the illustration and John-Paul Flintoff for the writing. You can buy this map in our shop.

Sketch 1 for WBY? for NWS

Sketch 2 for WBY? for NWS

Sketch 3 for WBY? for NWS

What's Bugging You? Mapology Guide

The beginnings of any business is always close to the founders hearts. But it is just the beginning! The hard work starts after that. Mike decided he wanted to concentrate on making art and so he left the business in January 2017. I've been running Mapology Guides on my own ever since and the learning has been steep.

Presently mainly focused on self-help, I worked out that we humans are complex beings, but despite different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs we all really share the same feelings, emotions and worries. Hence why a Mapology Guide works universally. Personally I can see the progression with every map released. They remain a real challenge to do, but I would not have it any other way.

Some of you will also know that we offer a bespoke Mapology Guide creation service for businesses and organisations who have a complex message they would like to communicate to employees or their customers and clients. 

Currently I'm thinking about the topics of the next couple of Mapology Guides. There are always so many to choose from….that’s my dilemma!