(KMTR) -- An overnight success story for a Eugene-area artist after years of creating and selling geographic maps, all thanks to a single news article and the power of the Internet.
A University of Oregon graduate, Dave Imus has been making maps out of his home for decades. While his work is well know and renowned in professional circles, he’s flown under the public radar… until now.
One of his masterworks, a map of the United States has caught massive online popularity. The work is not only changing Imus’ life, but how many of us look at the geography of the United States of America.
“It's a love of the world, appreciating landscapes,” says Imus.
After around 30 years of cartography, the hours have stacked up.
“I'm not watching the clock to see how much time I have to work.. I'm watching the clock to see how much more time I get to work,” Imus chuckles.
The work hasn’t always given the best returns though.
“It’s been 29 years of way sub-minimum wage as an artist,” says Imus.
But all of that could be changing now with some of Dave’s most recent work.
“I knew that I could make maps so much more informative and clear,” says Imus, commenting on one of his latest pieces.
After 2 years of time invested, between 5 and 6 thousand hours, Dave produced a map of the U.S.A. called “The Essential Geography of the United States.”
Dave did it by hand on a computer, taking a different take on U.S. geography after being unsatisfied with many of the mainstream company maps. Dave says many mainstream map makers will fill in the major boundaries, roads, rivers and cities, then fill the rest of the map with surrounding cities.
Dave took a different approach, carefully choosing every single thing to include on the map.
“With every single detail of which there's literally tens of thousands on this map, I'm asking myself, can a reader understand this?” says Imus.
For example, on Dave’s map, one can get a taste of the differences from far out and up close.
From a distance, one can easily tell the forested areas of the United States, due to the soft green shading in the background of the states. Showing relative population density, Imus used yellow to indicate how large popular spread across each state.
Imus also eliminated the use of certain colors such as purple to avoid the map being too eye catching in certain area.
In terms of significant points, Imus tried to include major cities, but also things like popular landmarks, tourist attractions, event venues, colleges and other significant elements of U.S. geography. For example, the Kentucky Blue Grass lands are marked on the map, an area Imus say many people may have heard about, but don’t know where it is.
The map isn’t limited to those changes though.
“It's just the value of this, just like the value of medical illustrations is that is draws your eye to the detail the really matters and that's what I feel like I've done for the first time,” says Imus.
The map was finished in 2010, and awarded the “Best in Show” award at the 2010 Cartography and Geographic Information Society’s 38th annual map competition in mid 2011.
But while it’s been completed for a while, the map has just now caught a wind of strong popularity, thanks to the Internet.
A recent news article about the map, titled, “The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See,” on Slate.com has drawn tens of thousands of new people to Imus’ work as well.
The article was published on January 2nd, 2012. In that time, Imus has had to relocate his website to new servers due to demand.
“The article runs and an hour later, my website is swamped and the article goes down,” says Imus.
After selling a steady amount of maps week after week for years, Imus says he’s now inundated with new orders in a 6 day stretch. More than 7,000 orders have come in that time.
“It's wonderful and rewarding and gratifying, but provided quiet a number of things to do that I am not accustomed to,” chuckles Imus.
With new success, Imus hopes that everyone can start looking at the U.S. in a new light and hopefully learn a little bit more about the country.
“My map brings into focus, the principal elements and fabric of the United States. That's what allows us to see the United States more clearly and to understand it and appreciate it more than we ever could before,” says Imus.
As for his next venture, Imus is hoping to start a non-profit to get new maps of the U.S.A., states and cities in classrooms across America.
For a look at Imus’ map, you can visit his website at the following link: https://imusgeographics.com/..
For a look at the Slate.com article recently written about Imus, click the following link: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/01/the_best_american_wall_map_david_imus_the_essential_geography_of_the_united_states_of_america_.single.html.