onsdag 8 juni 2011
Cobbled streets. This is an old project of mine that was first published in the local Swedish newspaper in Porvoo, Borgåbladet. It was in their 2006 summer supplement. I was asked to draw a map of Old Porvoo and pin out cafes, shops, museums. Easy, two hour assignment. That would have been way too easy.
I decided to draw every house as seen from the street and link information about the shops to the drawings. I also added some historical information (for example where the Russian tsar stayed when he visited town in 1809 and where Finlands national writer Runeberg used to live) and information about when every house was built. That wasn´t as easy as I thought (nothing ever is). I spent hours at the local museum´s archive, even more hours flipping through local history books, and finally I found a nice helping guy at the city planning office who searched their documents on every house on my list (no electronic database...). There´s a special place in heaven for all the civil servants who help journalists with their weird and time consuming requests.
I visited every shop and every café on the two streets pictured here and asked the shopkeepers two standard questions about their business.
I wanted the miniature paintings to be as accurate as possible when it comes to colour, height in comparison to the buildings on both sides, number of doors, windows and ornament. The style is a bit clumsy but the best I could do at the time. I took photos of every house, the task was a bit tricky because the streets are narrow and it was difficult to get a full view of the houses, including color of roofs and location of chimneys.
After all that work I was so happy that they wanted to use it again in 2008, and in 2010 the shopkeepers of Old Porvoo asked me if they could buy it and use it in their marketing. They make one or two marketing newspapers every year, using this on the centerfold. So this project lives on and on, and from the different versions of it printed in different years, one can see how the Old town changes, what new shops come and old close down (many of the shops have been at the same location for decades, but some new appear every year). So it becomes kind of a reference for the future. As a (drop out) history student this aspect makes me happy.
If there´s a lesson to be learned (for me and maybe someone else as well) it is not to be afraid to put lots of work into something you believe in. If it´s good enough it can live on longer than you thought. Because of this street map I have gotten other assignments as well. So if you think, aah, would be lovely, but ooh, too much work, think again:-) Please feel free to re-use this idea to a street close to you, I would love to see what other illustrators make of it!
The version posted here is the latest. It´s in both Finnish and Swedish, so it´s a bit crammed with text. Print it out and come visit my favourite town!