Note from the Mapmaker | by Connie Brown
By Connie Brown, mapmaker, Redstone Studios
For twenty five years, I’ve created custom painted maps on canvas, often for world travelers. Though I have mapped much of the globe, Africa is the most popular geographic subject among my clients. I love mapping Africa and depicting its amazing fauna—especially the elephant, whom I (like many others) find such a stirring and magnificent creature. As the elephant population shrank on African soil, depicting them on canvas became an increasingly melancholy, almost elegiac, task for me. Was there a way I could use my mapping skills to help alleviate the elephant crisis? What if I created a compelling enough map to inspire viewers with a sense of stewardship, a map that functioned both as a call to action and a testament to the elephant’s traits and ecological role?
I knew I couldn’t do it alone: I reached out to Katie Losey, a devoted champion of wildlife conservation, hoping she would partner with me in this volunteer effort. Thankfully, she agreed. Together, we read about elephants; consulted wildlife specialists; and pondered the map’s theme, content, and composition. Once we’d designed the map, I cut a wall-sized swath of canvas square and started painting. Between planning and painting, the project time (fittingly) equaled the gestation period of an elephant—nearly two years.
The result is an illustrated work designed to draw viewers in aesthetically, rekindle their love and concern for an iconic and threatened species, and inspire activism and contributions to our beneficiary, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Early on, Katie and I resolved to celebrate not just the remarkable nature of African elephants, but also the positive steps that are being taken to save African elephants. Our aim was to create a meaningful and beautiful map suitable for children, parents, and grandparents alike. We offer it to you with love and hope, and invite you to engage in the salvation of an awe-inspiring and essential species.