The purpose of including this image in my portfolio is stated at the end of this long explanation.

A while ago I came across this graphic (top image blow) on the internet (I forget where). I like maps, so I looked it over with greater and greater scrutiny. Quickly, I found the image less than satisfactory, both as a designer and as a lover of maps. As I looked at it, all kinds of things jumped out at me that I did not like. Like:

• Wyoming and Colorado are almost identical in shape. So why wouldn’t you have three “Wyomings”? Also, one of those “Wyomings” should be fitted into the notch of Utah.

I like the way they did that with Nebraska. I like the way they did Texas. I like Idaho. Louisiana is good, except the pieces don’t line up very well. But, while there are some good things to point to, I had to also ask...

• Where is lake Michigan? Where is Rhode Island? And where is the Oklahoma panhandle for goodness sakes?!

To me, the whole thing seemed like a jumbled mess, with inconsistent spacing between states, and not that accurate to the shape of the states. Perhaps that was intentional, for charm; it looks wacky. Maybe they were going for wacky in their design. Or... maybe they were just being sloppy. As I continued to observe, I noticed that it also goes from an orthographic projection in the west to a mercator projection in the east. Why?

• I also didn’t like that Iowa and Illinois only had one word. New Mexico is two words, but only once.

• Seemed like the bigger side of Ohio should be to the west, not east.

• Why were Mississippi and Alabama... and Arkansas so slanted?

• Tennessee and North Carolina are not directly in line with each other, the way they are on an actual map.

After looking this design over for a while, I decided to try making my own version, copying what I liked from the original, and making alterations here and there - as described below. Like:

• I made three “Wyomings” and made them fit Utah!

• I added a panhandle to Oklahoma!

• I decided to indent one of the “Washingtons” to suggest the notch up there that is the entrance to the sound.

• I made the bottom “Oregon” just a bit bigger to suggest the bump out there.

• I also added two small “Californias” to suggest northern and southern.

• I flipped the “Nevadas” so that the “Ns” would make a nice line across the top.

• I made the “As” of Arizona line up to make a nice straight diagonal line.

• I added a small “Minnesota” and pushed it up to suggest the notch up there.

• I made one of the “Michigans” smaller to suggest the thumb.

• As an Illinoisan, I am still not happy with the shape, but it definitely needed more than one word, to suggest the curve along the Mississippi.

• Missouri is kind of a slanted state. I tried to make one of them slightly larger to suggest the “boot heel.”

• I think an extra small “Florida” made more sense on the gulf side.

• I adjusted New Jersey to suggest its zig zag shape.

• Connecticut breaks in a strange place, but I wanted to suggest the notch to its west.

When I was done I was still not satisfied! I don’t know what kind of limitations were imposed upon the other designer, but I decided to allow myself to use the two letter postal abbreviations in some places so that I could more accurately represent the shape of a state. So...

• I added a NM to New Mexico. And a PA over Erie Pennsylvania.

• I used postal abbreviations to make the diagonal between Tennessee and N Carolina clearer. And one abbreviation to make the line between Vermont and N Hampshire clearer... and to make the border between Idaho and Montana a bit more of a diagonal.

• I used a postal abbreviation to make Virginia a little rounder. And to help define the indent of Minnesota, as well as show how New York dips down between New Jersey and Connecticut.

• Delaware was a little too big, so it, and Rhode Island, use just postal abbreviations.

One good thing about the other one, is that you don’t see a lot of distortion to the letters. Mine has some noticeable distortions. I think it’s a good tradeoff to getting better fits and more accurate state shapes.

Was the original design intended to be wacky, or is it just sloppy? To me, it looks like it was done by someone who doesn’t really love maps, and was not really that interested in preserving the key characteristics of the state shapes that people readily recognize. What kind of person do you want working for you? If you asked someone to create this for a client, which one would give them? If they want sloppy, inaccurate and wacky, the first one might be perfect. If they want something that is consistent in spacing and tries to capture the character of the states shape, they might be disappointed with the first one - as I was.

Hire me, and get someone who thinks through a design challenge and doesn’t stop until it is tweaked to perfection - someone who cares about delivering something good.