She said YES!
Ariana Sanchez, aka @elmarestallenodemedusas on Instagram, is a designer & illustrator based in Mexico City with a passion for sub-culture fashion and Japanese fashion. A collaboration done with another account I follow led me to “stumble upon” her work. I was immediately hooked!
Upon returning from a trip to Japan last year, I noticed she had beautiful sketches in the form of a journal. Even though it could be a long shot, I PM’d her and asked her if she was interested in making maps to better share her experiences with others. Now she is illustrating new maps on a regular basis.
We wanted to take a chance to interview her and get the inside scoop about her creative process during her last trip to Japan. Here it is!
Hi Ariana! Tell us a bit more about you. How did you get started in Design and Illustration?
My name is Ariana, I’m a Designer and Illustrator. I’m currently the Lead Designer at Dada Room, a platform that helps you find roommates. Like many people, I was interested in drawing since I was a little kid. My mom kept recycled paper and drawing supplies for me, so it was only it was an easy path. In High School, I discovered that I could actually make it a career path for me. Another influence was all the cartoons and TV shows I used to watch, which made me want to learn more.
Do you have a style or influence that defines you?
More than an illustration style or technique, Fashion, and Japanese culture have been present in my work, or at least in more recent years. I follow a lot of Asian artists because I see that they are always experimenting with their style, colors, and typography.
Do you have a project you have enjoyed a lot you can tell us about?
More than a specific project I enjoy the ones that allow me to be me. Clients that look for branding opportunities with my particular style. Those projects make me feel like I’m heading on the right path and that people appreciate what I do.
Do you use Maps when you travel? Do you draw your own maps or do you use a service/app?
I use Google Maps a lot and I always add my own with layers and icons. I also like to draw travel guides because I not always can customize online maps. I like adding drawings, notes, etc.
How did you start to draw your own maps?
After my last two trips to Japan, I started to get a lot of travel questions from my followers. That let me to try and find a way to share my knowledge easily for them, so maps were the answer. I think that for people, they are a great way to share an experience. You can navigate a map and keep it with you during your travels, even in a physical form. Printed maps are so nice!
Tell us more about the maps you make. What is your inspiration?
I use YouTube a lot as a reference. For example, when I start drawing a map before a trip, I research a lot of videos since I feel they tell more than the usual travel blogs.
So I always watch a lot of videos at first about the location and then I focus on a theme or I give it a priority. In my case, they always are about food, and with that, I can use it as a theme.
Is there an emotional connection during the creation of your map?
Of course! All the places are linked to a memory or story. There are places that I omit even though they might be important tourist spots because hard being objective when picking locations for my final draft.
What is your process when developing a map? Tell us more about how do you organize the information you will include.
I always try to focus on a theme for my maps. I divide my maps into layers, then I think of bars or museums o weird places I’d like to visit. Then, after reviewing how much material I have and see if I can craft a map with it.
How long does it take you to create a map?
Depends on the places I want to include or the annotations I have. The amount of research time needed is also important. For example, with my Day of the Dead bread I finished it in like 3 hours, but the research was like about 2 weeks of me eating and trying the bread, LOL.
Do you visit the places you illustrate?
Yeah, always or at least I try to cover all of the locations. I try not to waste time on places that I know I will not visit.
Is there a difference between the maps of places you have been already been compared to places you haven’t yet?
Yes, the ones I’ve been to are my most favorite ones since I can recollect my experiences and share them with others. The second type of maps are more like bucket lists, places that have been shared by others, so they are fun to check them off. That way, I can visit places that I was not aware of.
How do you illustrate your maps? Hand drawn or digital?
A mix of both. The maps I’ve done digital are the ones I’ve planned, tested and everything. Before that, I have map sketches on my pad that are more like drafts. I get a general composition idea but I also like how they look like sketches, so I leave them there.
There are people that let us know that they would love to create their own maps, but they describe themselves as shy or bashful about sharing their work. What would be your advice for them?
It might sound a little obvious, but you will not get anywhere if you let fear get in the way of showing your work. You need to stop thinking what others might think of your work since there will always people who will like your work.
How much experience in illustration do you consider one needs to create a map?
None, you only need to start practicing and research some references to find your style.
What advice would you give someone that has never illustrated before but would like to create their own maps?
Just pick a theme, whatever you like. It’s easier then you are an expert or passionate about a theme. This way, the way you display your information will be more clear and will be able to tell a better story this way.
How would an online map platform like Stroly be interesting for people interested in maps?
Maybe with tutorials made with map creators. This could motivate others to create their own maps. Invite other people that have not considered it before.
How are you liking Stroly so far and how are you incorporating it to your map creation process?
I like the fact that you have different types of maps. I was not aware that a community of map creators existed.
Is there anything you would like to see developed by Stroly in the future? Any suggestion?
I think the interface could be improved to make sure that users that have never made maps before can use it easily too.
AFTER OUR INTERVIEW
We are definitely passionate about Ariana’s work and we love having her a contributor. Ariana tells us that she is currently working on some neighborhood guides of Tokyo, all with her unique perspective and point of view as a traveler. We absolutely cannot wait!
Find out more about Ariana’s work here: