How's Work?: The Mapmaker

Stentor Danielson, a college geography professor, makes custom fantasy and cutout maps sold on Etsy.



 

Stentor Danielson
JOB: Mapmaker; Assistant Professor of Geography, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

 

Why study geography?
I got interested in the discipline of geography from reading “Lord of the Rings.” I read it for the first time when I was in [the] third grade, and I was fascinated by the maps and all of the lands and cultures that they explored.

You make custom fantasy and cutout maps for your Etsy shop. What’s the process of creating a cutout map?
The cutout maps are done [with] an X-Acto Knife, and I use some of the modern, high-tech tools to put together the initial design. I can download [Geographic Information Systems] files of the locations of all the roads, and I format those in [a program called QGIS] — and I print them out, and I cut it out by hand, with an X-Acto Knife on cutting board. [I] bring a piece of white paper and cut out the streets.

What maps have people custom-ordered?
I have done [maps] of Boston. I have done [maps] of Washington, D.C. I have done Austin, Texas.

Which maps of Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the most popular?
Lawrenceville and Oakland.

Tell me about the Middle Earth-style map of Pittsburgh that’s making its way around the Internet.
I used to, for my own amusement, draw maps like that of totally fictional places, with all the little mountains and all the little trees and all the little cities and such. Kind of on a whim, I decided to draw a map of Pittsburgh . . . I put it online expecting to get one or two people to order [copies], and then it exploded.

You have said that maps provide clues as to why a place is rich or poor, among other information.
If [people] with no cultural awareness of Pittsburgh or its history looked at a street map and had an expertise in maps, what kind of things could they learn? We talk about Pittsburgh as a city of neighborhoods, and that’s really obvious as we see how each neighborhood flows — how the streets all connect to each other and [how] they are aligned. That says a lot about how Pittsburgh was built, over rivers and gorges. And you could also infer how Pittsburghers are attached to their neighborhoods — and might not want to go across the river to other neighborhoods.
 

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

The 412

Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

The creator of the app — which takes any playlist on your smartphone or tablet and plays it in one-minute pieces — reminds users to please drink responsibly.
NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

The group behind the station's Sandwich Monday blog series orders the iconic sandwich and writes a review.
Pittsburgh Has 'America's Ugliest Accent'

Pittsburgh Has 'America's Ugliest Accent'

The results of the Gawker poll are in: We’re No. 1.
'Yinzer Goosebumps' Series Parodies the Horrors of 'Burgh Life

'Yinzer Goosebumps' Series Parodies the Horrors of 'Burgh Life

The great Benstonium is at again with this set of faux book covers.

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
40 Under 40: 2014

40 Under 40: 2014

In their own ways, the 40 men and women we introduce here show us daily how we can ensure that Pittsburgh is deserving of its Most Livable City title.