Owner’s Story: The Map Maker
When we first heard Owen used his studio for cartography, we couldn’t resist asking him to map out cool spots near to our Greater London showsite (check out the time lapse below). Now we’re back to catch up with Owen about how his studio makes light work of going hybrid.
Accompanying music © 2019 Tom Delaney. All Rights Reserved.
In this Q&A interview, Owen shares the passion that sparked his map-making and how the studio flexes for the day job, being creative and indoor racing.
What inspired you to be a map maker?
It came about a bit by chance initially, when I drew a fun map of a long-distance running event I’d completed in Cornwall at the start of 2017. It went down well with friends online, and I soon realised how it could be fun to do similar illustrated maps of other people’s races and journeys. This is the biggest thing that inspires me, talking to people about the epic adventures they’ve been on, and having the opportunity to illustrate these for them is a privilege and has been a lot of fun.
Have you always worked from home?
I’ve spent the last 20 years or so working in IT for various companies, mainly in offices but with some occasional work from home in recent years. This was all from the dining table until I bought my Studio Apex!
What prompted you to make a garden studio into your creative space?
I’d spent the last couple of years drawing and painting in my spare time, and when we realised that the artwork had the potential to expand, we knew a dedicated space was going to be essential.
“Making maps is not something that scales well in a busy family home. The last thing a client wants to find on their artwork is last night’s dinner!”
How did you decide on which garden building/ finish to have?
We came along to Squire’s Garden Centre to have a look at some of the ones on show, and with the help of the fantastic Malvern Garden Buildings Staff, found the one we wanted. The style and finish were a group decision with my wife Kate and the kids!
What’s it like working from your garden office?
It’s been wonderful. Of course, it helps to have built it in the summer with plenty of sunshine to light up the place. We all love it, there’s a desk and space for the kids to study (and a beanbag for the cats – Elsie, Molly and Teddy!), so it’s nice to be able to share it with them.
It’s perfect as a space for me to work from, allowing me to switch off at the end of a working day and return to the house.
“The studio gets used almost daily, all year round, sun, rain, snow, whatever the weather. It’s not too big, so heats up quickly in the cold winter months with the little electric heater we have in there.”
How did you find making the map for a mini travel guide to Shepperton and area?
I really enjoyed working on this map, it’s an area I’m fairly familiar with from my runs along the river. So, it’s been nice to have an excuse to illustrate the area.
What other commissions have you done, or would you consider?
I’ve worked on all sorts of running related maps for people, mainly routes in the UK, such as the Monarch’s Way, South Downs Way and a few in Snowdonia, plus a few further afield in the Alps, USA and South Africa.
I’d love to branch out a bit into other types of map, perhaps some long-distance car and motorcycle journeys, or golf courses, and my dad thinks I should start mapping people’s train commutes. He quite likes trains…
One of my most recent commissions was a new map for Centurion Running’s inaugural Winter Downs 200, an epic 200 mile running race, covering much of The North and South Downs Ways.
How does your garden studio help you achieve a good work-life balance?
I was working full time with the art business for a couple of years before starting a new day job in IT back in Feb 2022. I work hybrid with a couple of days a week from the garden studio and a few days in the office. Then weekends are spent creating more artwork, or cycling in Zwift from the garden studio.
Tell us more about cycling in Zwift…
Think of Zwift as a video game where your bike is the controller, and you get fit while you play. It’s a virtual world where tens of thousands of cyclists around the world can get together and race, train or just explore. Personally I find it great for when the weather is bad and/or time is limited – it’s much quicker to just jump on the bike in the shed and train, without needing to get kitted out in the same way as we need to when riding outdoors. The rear wheel of the bike attaches to a smart bike trainer, which communicates with my laptop and adjusts the resistance depending on the terrain in Zwift, e.g. when I’m climbing Alpe du Zwift, it really feels like I’m crawling up a long, steep mountain road!