Since launching Keirtography, I’ve received several confused questions about my work, or inquiries about taking on certain map projects or design jobs—either because of my previous design career, or because I haven’t been clear about what I’m doing these days. So, from the desk of “if you don’t define yourself, then someone else will” here’s what I do and what I don’t:

What I Do

Maps. I’m a map artist, working with digital tools to create static imagery for print and pixel. I make custom, unique map art for publication (editorial, fiction, nonfiction, and research), map art for location (wayfinding, promotion, and education), map art for worldbuilding (role-playing stories and table-top games), and my own digital cartographic visual art projects

I have worked and will work with authors directly, but I usually go through official channels, like a particular facility’s, publisher’s or organization’s representative (creative directors, marketing managers, art directors, etc.). If you just want a map of the trail you hike, or of the real estate you’re trying to sell, I’m probably not your guy. There are other kinds of maps I don’t make, too—so please see “What I Don’t Do” below before reaching out.

Design. I’ve been a professional graphic designer since 2004, so I have lots of experience creating publication layouts (magazines, books, journals, reports), brand identity (logos, style guides, stationery, collateral), and environmental design (event branding, signage, trade show booths). Since focusing on map design in 2020, I haven’t done much other design work—though I’m always willing to consider it for longtime friends, colleagues, or worthy causes or organizations. However, there’s lots of design work I’m not qualified for, or no longer want to do, so again please see “What I Don’t Do” below before reaching out.

Speaking. Before the pandemic shut down in-person events, I would do occasional one-off guest speaking appearances or join portfolio reviews. I’ve been told that my advice and experience is valuable to emerging creative professionals (new graduates or professionals just starting out), which is extremely validating to a guy with an English BA who never went to art school and carries one flimsy design certificate. Please see this page for what I generally like to talk about.

What I Don’t Do

I don’t do cartography. I’m not qualified to do “real” cartography; I don’t create dynamic, data-driven maps generated by GIS (geographic information systems) or similar software. There are plenty of great cartographers out there (most people belonging to NACIS can do this way better than I can), and I’m not one of them. 

I don’t do hand-drawn illustrations. I’m not a trained illustrator, so my hand-drawn projects are mostly private and extremely rare. I don’t make pictorial/bird’s-eye-view maps or kitschy kid-birthday treasure maps or other such novelties for gifts. Likewise, I don’t use software like Inkarnate to make digital maps that resemble hand-drawn hobbit-style maps. It’s just not my thing, so please don’t ask.

I don’t do website design, UX/UI design, product design, or app design. I’m neither interested nor qualified in the three latter things, and many other people and agencies can do that stuff for you. Several years ago I made websites frequently, but I haven’t written a line of code for anyone besides myself since 2016, and the industry’s skills and standards have long since passed me by, so please don’t ask about or refer me to web design projects.

I don’t teach at any level. I’m not interested in adjunct work or other similar teaching jobs at any level, so please don’t ask. I don’t say this lightly, because many of my family and friends are teachers, so I know what’s involved and it’s too much for me, so I’ve learned that I’m much better with one-off guest appearances in a classroom, or one-on-one mentoring.

I don’t offer prints or buy print services as part of my work. However I have lots of experience with preflight and press-checking, so I’m happy to work with any print vendor you choose. 

I don’t make NFTs, so please don’t ask. If you see any of my artwork as an NFT, it’s been stolen and misappropriated. I don’t use AI art for client projects, so please don’t ask. I am not against it—I have used it, and likely will use it again, for personal projects—but I will not use it for professional work. 

Finally, I reserve the right to ignore or decline any projects for undisclosed reasons. I will say that I don’t work with political reactionaries or right-wing conservatives. When I worked for agencies and with partnerships, I did too many projects for people or organizations whose goals and beliefs were not my values, and now that I’m freelancing I enjoy choosing clients and projects that align with who I am and what I believe. Life’s too short to work for people you don’t respect or who don’t respect you.

What I Charge

I charge by project and not by the hour, requiring half-down before starting a project, and half upon completion. My map projects start at $1500, and go from there based on individual project variables. I’m happy to work within any budget or timeline, but I rarely take on projects lower than $1500 because those projects usually cost more on my end and I lose money. I charge what I charge because this is my job, and each client’s project benefits from my decades of experience in design at the agency, entrepreneurial, and freelance levels. Timelines get shorter, overheads get way lower, and costs are usually less than they would be if someone else with commensurate experience did this work. With professional creativity democratized but also irreversibly commodified, my brain, my time, and my skills are valuable.

I have charged $500 for a few projects in the past, but those projects were either for friends/family or ended up costing several times that amount to actually produce. A good example of a $1500 project is this one. A good example of a negotiated “less than $1500 per map” project is this one (two maps using similar base vector assets). Another “less than $1500 per map” example is this one (three maps using three different base assets with similar styles, with working files purchased by the client).

How I Work

All of my work requires a signed contract prepared by me clearly stating project scope, deadlines, compensation, and any other relevant details. All of my contracts include at least one round of substantial changes, with work beyond that either negotiated separately or charged at an hourly rate. That round of changes can be as long as needed within the larger general timeline, but it’s usually 1/4 to 1/3 the length of production time. 

I don’t do spec work, and I don’t fill out requests-for-proposals without a written agreement regarding compensation and/or ownership of the artwork. All of my contracts stipulate that I retain control of the project’s working files, and those files can be purchased as a separate line item. I will request all required image or copy assets once the project begins. If stock assets are required (photographs, vector imagery or icons, etc.), their cost is folded into the final project cost. All of my work is done in Adobe software.

Anything Else?

In case all this was a bit much, or if you have any questions, please ask me anything to clarify! I knew writing this wouldn’t be that brief, but I’ve probably forgotten something critical to someone. Use the email link below. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!