Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet Ginger Prewitt, Map Artist

Today's guest post is from Ginger Prewitt, in-house Map Artist for Hadley Rille Books. Ginger is an elementary school Principal by day, and in her spare time, she beautifully renders our authors' imagined worlds for all to enjoy. Here she talks a little bit about how she came to work for Hadley Rille and the process of bringing a map into reality. 

I have always been an avid reader. Always. I have no memory of not being able to read. More importantly, I was exposed to a wide array of books at home, had the luxury of living near a public library we rode our bikes to, and I had great teachers who either assigned or encouraged me to read genres I might never otherwise have been exposed to. At some point along the way, I received an assignment to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. In the end, I enjoyed the trilogy much better, but the true treasures I adored in all of the books were the maps. These helped me “see” where our adventurers were at any given point in the story.

All throughout my life, I have also been a doodler. I often illustrated my thinking while learning new things in order to make the information understandable. As it turned out, I was pretty good. People praised my talent, and while I was not always confident about it, I treasure what I have learned is a God-given gift, and I have truly loved sharing my artwork. I even started college life as an art major, hoping to either be an animator for the Walt Disney Company or a children’s book illustrator. While my path led me to education, I have never hindered my creative side. I continue to paint and draw to this day.

One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is as Map Artist for Hadley Rille Books. My biggest honor came when I started out with my best friend Kim Vandervort’s book The Song and the Sorceress. As part of Kim’s writing group, I had read the story she’d created, and I loved the characters and quest. Because a major quest was involved in the story, having a map became a necessity. Kim had a good sketch of the shape of the lands, but it was great fun imagining the topography while checking facts against the book in order to ensure the pathways taken made sense. Of course, the maps from Tolkien’s masterpiece resonated in my head, and I purposely did not look at them for fear of mimicking too much. Instead, I looked at
cartographers' work from centuries ago as I wanted the ink-drawn piece to reflect an old world quality. Styles from those time periods range significantly, and after different sketches were rendered, I found my own style. Of course, since I was putting someone else’s story into a visual representation, the author has feedback, too. Much to my delight, this first author with whom I worked, and love like a sister, genuinely liked the product. Truly, it was a magical experience that resulted in one of my favorite maps.

This most wonderful partnership bloomed as the small publishing house was also happy with the work. That is perhaps any artist’s most satisfying moment – getting positive feedback when others admire what you have created. This led to several more partnerships and opportunities to create maps for other authors. Map creation took on a new process, as I had not read these stories ahead of time. Authors would send me their own doodles of a map to ensure that location of items like cities, forests, borders, and the like were all correct. Some are often more crude than others. Reading some city spellings can be a challenge as well,
depending on how much detail the author put into the sketch. So, my process is that I will make a pencil drawing based upon the author’s sketch. Scans of the sketch go back and forth since authors live all over the world. Once a final blessing from the author has been given, from the author as well as the publisher, I spend time carefully inking the drawing and remove any stray pencil markings. As a result, no two maps are the same, while the overall style is consistent.

Overall, the opportunity to be a Map Artist has satisfied my creative side and merged it with my love of reading. I hope my maps bring pleasure to readers as they follow the characters in a way they might not otherwise visualize as easily. As always, I am looking forward to the next need for a map.


Terri-Lynne said...

Your maps are amazing, and have brought all our worlds to more vivid life. You truly are gifted. XX

Wm. L. Hahn said...

Never saw a map I didn't like, honestly. These are great, and I marvel at anyone who can map by hand. Personally I've relied on Campaign Cartographer from Profantasy and been very happy with the results, even as a clutz.