WLIA’s Map Contest: An Inspiration Gallery & You!

Special thanks to David Buehler who wrote this article.

There is a treasure at the WLIA Annual Conference every year.  It is not something you have to sit through and listen to.  It is not something where you have to choose between one room or another.  It is not something that you have to stay awake all hours of the night for either.

It sprawls along walls, easels, and tables; its tendrils dig far and wide as the digital plane.  It is often silently observed or whispered about in small groups.  It is a combination of art gallery and museum in equal parts.  It unites us and brings us back to our roots of cartography in this digital age, reminding us where we have been and showing us where we are going.  It invokes thoughts, dispenses knowledge, and inspires each of us.  The Map Gallery is one of the cornerstones at the WLIA Annual Conference.

We see students, freelancers, and private sector companies showcasing their work, but not always a lot of government entities.  As a member of a local government entity writing to you, I say your work as a government entity has value and inspiration that needs to be shared.  Your work does not need to have gone to a professional print company or be finished in Illustrator.  It does not need to have been part of a research paper or a study.  It does not need to be something where you sunk hours or days of work to get that color blue to be the right color blue and get that fade just right.  It can be plain as plain can be, as long as it effectively conveys what it needs to.

The gallery is not all about the awards presented on Friday or the popularity of a particular entry.  Some of the most valuable maps I have seen and judged over the years did not win an award, but I have taken elements and ideas from them back to the office. Now I incorporate these things in my work on a daily basis.  They have created a cascading effect of what is possible within my city government and outside agencies that I work with.  The people coming to me now ask better questions and have a better understanding of what is appropriate for the projects that they work on.

To those of you that will enter the contest, I thank you.  To those you on the fence about sharing your work in the gallery, especially those of you that are a government unit or agency, I implore you to enter.  You never know who you will inspire.  To those of you that do not enter or have never entered, I ask that you consider entering a piece in the future because, who knows, you might be hoarding a masterpiece. With that, I am looking forward to seeing the new gallery of inspiration this year, and learning something new from each of you!

Register for the Map Contest here.

For more Map Contest information, go here.

Map Credits:
Airport Zoning Height Restrictions Map – Wittman Regional Airport (Detail), City of Oshkosh, 2017
Lottery & Gaming Credit Search (Detail), Racine County Treasurer, Jane Nikolai, 2017

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