The last shall be first…


I am an early adopter about some things, but I’m just about the last person in my family to start a blog. My dad has one, my partner started one last month. My brother and his wife each have one; even my niece’s guinea pig has one.

I’ve certainly read my share of blogs (particularly since getting DSL and marveling at the 2008 election). And I’ve found some really neat blogs, on topics ranging from public transit to trails to Alaskan politics.

I have taken a few stabs at making my website work like a blog, but with tools like WordPress and Blogspot, there’s no sense recreating the wheel (and all those links, folders, and self-updating archives). So here I am! I’m kinda excited.  It’s going to take a little while to get started — I went to add a link to the list and accidentally erased the page I was working on. And I’m the guy who says “save early and often.” I’ve reconstructed about half of my brilliant first post here, and as they say, it’s easier the second time around, and the rest I’ll catch later.

As I was writing a moment ago, my goal for this blog is to let you know about interesting projects and techniques relating to my freelance cartography business, Pease Press, and (if not too off-topic) other relevant aspects of my life. The other big chunk of content will be news of San Francisco Bay Area trails and neighborhoods. I publish a line of Bay Area trail maps. I don’t get a chance to update them on a regular basis, but I’m always finding new trails and hikes, and occasionally favorite trails fall into the brink. There are also a number of great websites and books out there which deserve mention, and/or links. 

No one platform is perfect, but I look forward to finding and sharing my voice about things that matter to me (environment, food, trails, neighborhood, hidden histories). And  connecting people with ideas, and linking to other, better voices. Here and in the real world.


2 Responses to “The last shall be first…”

  1. Marina McClay Says:

    I’m a big fan of your Pacifica and North Peninsula trail maps and just love maps in general, and trails and food and environment – all those things that matter to you too. I live in Daly City and my favorite hike is the Brooks Falls Trail to the Montara Mountain Trail to North Peak Road. I also really enjoy the Summit Loop Trail at San Bruno Mountain, part of which I can see from my house. I’m a Human Resources Manager but I’d rather be a cartographer like you. I’ve always been interested in both physical and cultural geography. I’m fascinated by climate zones, topograhical features, vegetation, surface travel and exploration. Do you need any part-time help? How about an intern? I have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and lots of practical life skills. How can I get into your field?

    • peasepress Says:

      Hi Marina,

      Thanks for your comment on my blog, and your kind words about my maps. Sorry to take so long to reply.

      Here’s half an answer (if we’re lucky). To a certain extent you can do well to start what you really want to do on the side, then when you can’t stand it any more, or don’t have much of a choice but to dive into it, try diving into it. Maybe I’ll post a blog on how I got into this field.

      Cartography is a broad field of work, though from the point of view that you does your work and get paid for it, that narrows the parameters a little bit. In my case I have a slight background in architectural CAD (computer aided design); scant experience with GIS (graphic information system databases maps). My work is primarily graphic design, making maps for websites and guidebooks. The published maps I thought would bring me fame and fortune have been a fun sideline but it is hard to conduct both businesses at once (three businesses, really — researching and making Pease Press maps, effectively promoting the maps I publish, and the guidebook/website work for other people). My work is primarily in FreeHand and Illustrator; if you can believe it I turn on Word only once a week or so to do invoices or cover letters, but most of my work is in graphic applications.

      I got into the guidebook map business just as publishers were switching from hand-done art to digital files. So in the early years (late 1990s) there were a lot of projects copying, converting, and updating old hand-done art, in addition to new guidebook maps. I also had the good fortune to have a girlfriend who is a graphic designer with a lot of fonts. And I had a day job (architectural design). Eventually the architecture office closed and I thought I could make a living making maps. Which I eventually did, though it took me until my bank account was nearly drained to pull the cord and fill my parachute with air. The business is cyclical, and has weird jolts (9/11, recessions, publishers closing down or laying off all the in- house people and re-hiring them as freelancers). I can sorta support myself; occasionally my partner. I probably could grow the business to more than a one-man shop but it would take some doing. Anyway, it’s an interesting mixture of problem solving (how to fit a big hike or ride into the format of a page-sized map, times 50 or 100 maps, using one ink, or full-color, simple data or a richer set of artwork depending on budget.

      Outside my particular niche, one place where you might have some openings as a novice cartographer would tend to be in the GIS side of things. You might try and take some courses at your local community college — Nick Salcedo is teaching a GIS class/lab at College of Marin this Fall (as he does from time to time). The advantage of this side of teh field is there is more room to analyze and problem-solve using data, and the Bay Area is full of non-profits that sorta kinda need maps from time to time. Or problems solved where maps could be of use. GreenInfoNetwork does maps for a wide number of non-profits; I don’t know if they take interns but ED Larry Orman might be worth asking advice. I do virtually none of this sort of work so I don’t exactly know of where I speak. Until recently (and to a large extent) GIS is a PC platform application rather than Mac, though there is some third-party GIS software now for Macs and Macs will run Windows.

      Keeping abreast of computers, software updates (or not) and all that stuff is a big challenge. I only keep up partway which helps and hinders accordingly. This year my computers are up to speed but I’m still running the old Mac OS to keep FreeHand running as happy as possible (my workhorse application got orphaned when Adobe bought Macromedia). But I don’t get to use all the latest software and project management software that runs on Mac OS 10.5 onward. Not that I’d manage my business much better if I did. There are people, and teams of people with good GIS experience who port their data over to the graphic side and run circles around what I know how to do, which is to be expected…

      Don’t know if that helps?

      Ben Pease

      Pease Press Maps 1717 Cabrillo St., San Francisco, CA 94121 phone: (415) 387-1437

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