PUTTING DOWN ROUTES

Tom Bacon creates hand-drawn illustrated maps from his home, then sells them on Etsy and Instagram.

A self-confessed map-geek – “I could honestly look at one for hours on end, getting lost in all the different elements and visualisations” ¬– Tom was inspired to start his business after his sibling set up an online shop selling hand-made crafts in early 2020. At the beginning of 2021, Tom bought himself a tablet and some design software, then spent the next few months working on some bespoke map illustrations before opening That Little Map Shop in June.

So, what’s with this love of maps? “Drawing maps has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. Art and geography have always been my passions, and I studied the latter all the way through to university, then trained as a cartographer in my first full-time job. It taught me so much more about the art of map-making – understanding how to balance geographic accuracy with artistic flair.”

Despite moving on from his cartographer days, Tom’s interest in maps never faded. Now, he’s rekindling his passion while learning the ropes of running an online Etsy shop and creating interesting content for social media.

“I really enjoy the design element of map-making. There’s something very calming and zen-like about drawing a map: taking something simple like a street, a park, a local landmark, and then trying to visualise it in new and exciting ways. Maps have become increasingly popular over the years, and you’ll often find them displayed as works of art on the walls of people’s homes.”

As well as selling ready-made maps of British towns, cities and counties, Tom accepts commissions for one-off designs, so if you’re looking for a unique item for your wall or mantelpiece, simply drop him a line.

Born and bred in Kingston-upon-Thames, Tom has strong connections to Reigate & Redhill: his mum was born in and grew up in Woodhatch, and he’d often visit his Nan in Earlswood as a child. In his 20s, his sister bought a flat above a restaurant in Reigate, meaning many weekends visiting and enjoying the local scene and countryside.

When the time came to buy their first home, Tom and his wife chose a flat on Croydon Road “where we spent seven happy years”. After having a son and with a daughter on the way, the family moved to a house in Redhill, where they still live today.

Beyond a creative outlet and business, maps are rooted of Tom’s life. “If I’m talking to someone about a holiday, or my wife arranges a day out, I’ll be straight online to look at a map. And whenever I’m out with friends or family, they rely on me to get us from A to B. If we get lost, I’m never allowed to forget it!”

Etsy store That Little Map Shop
Instagram @thatlittlemapshop

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