WhatIMake: Imaginary Maps

On April 16, 2016, Emily Garfield kicked off the first annual WhatIMake event with a talk on Imaginary Maps.

Emily, a local artist from Somerville who also serves on the board of Artisan’s Asylum, maps places that she makes up as she draws.  “People have described them as something like my brain drawing itself,” she explains at the beginning of her seven minute talk

“I describe my process as growing the drawing,” Emily says. Similarly to organisms and trees, her drawings grow through emergence, not top down but bottom up. Cities also grow this way, organically, over time, and under a specific set of rules, and Emiliy’s maps reflect this. “I decide on some simple rules and I work with those rules. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but I know the rules.”

Emily’s maps vary from purely abstract to completely realistic, but her process always stays the same. “They allow me to explore the patterns of nature and physics and what those look like. They also allow me to outsource my design making to these random processes.”  These processes are always evolving, Emily added, describing her next step: comparing randomness in the natural world to randomness in the digital world. “I am always coming up with all these different ways to push what I do and use my inspirations to grow my process.”

“These ideas aren’t always successful, but it’s actually the very process of exploring those ideas that allows you to create more ideas. This is how creativity works. As you try out more things, you get more fodder and you marinate in these ideas that you’ve come up with. And eventually, there will be a connection that will be really successful. But you need to explore those things, you need to do that research so that you have that fodder so that you have that creative resource.”


Hear the full talk on our youtube channel and experience WhatIMake: 2017, our second annual daylong celebration of makers, on April 22! Tickets on sale now!

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