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Local artist celebrates Longmont with whimsical map

“I really want people to see this and feel transported to a place that’s new and different, and see the space they’re already in in a completely different way,” Maldonado said.

Graphic designer by day, professional artist also by day, Amanda Maldonado puts Longmont in the map.

With what started as a project for the 30 day drawing challenge Inktober, Maldonado has made an artistic rendering of downtown Longmont’s 300 block of Main Street.

“I really want people to see this and feel transported to a place that’s new and different, and see the space they’re already in in a completely different way,” Maldonado said. “I hope they feel a newness, excitement and a bit of fantasy to it.”

Most of Maldonado’s work is done in pencil, ink and watercolor, illustrations of animals in a semi-realistic style on postcards and stickers. They can be found in places like Bricks Retail, JavaStop, Mountain Fountain and now the Longmont Museum gift shop. A print of the map will even hang in the Longmont Downtown Development Association office on the 300 block of Main.

“It’s so cool to see such a talented Longmont creative express their love for this City, its Downtown, and the Creative District in such a unique and engaging way. This map is such a fun and interactive representation of Downtown, and we’re lucky to have Amanda here in Longmont,” said LDDA Marketing Specialist and Event Coordinator Colin Argys. “Despite the disclaimer on the back, it’s easy to lose yourself in this map for quite some time, it is so intricate and detailed.”

Maldonado’s Longmont map is full of tiny details, deliberately artistic in placement of buildings and how the facades are viewed. The whole process took Maldonado eight months, from October 2020 through June 2021. During the creation, Maldonado would frequently post updates to her Coy Ink Instagram; a building here, a stack of books there, the project in a microcosm.

Maldonado was inspired by the crazy environments of Where’s Waldo and the imaginative themes and items of the I Spy series. Hidden in the map are cats, coffee, books and other hidden gems for the clever observer to find among some downtown Longmont mainstays.

“I spent some time thinking about where those could inspire me and where I would start. I thought I would redo the map of downtown Longmont, and that was way too much to bite off,” Maldonado said. “But I wanted to be really detailed and actually show the cool brickwork on some of the buildings so I broke it down to just the 300 block.”

Maldonado wanted to be able to highlight some of her favorite places downtown, like JavaStop, the library and the LDDA. She took photos of shops and storefronts downtown,  consolidating some of the buildings to pack as much detail in as possible.

“It’s fun because it looks almost realistic, until you realize it doesn’t quite make sense,” Maldonado said.

The 300 block map is in black and white, but Maldonado is planning on doing at least one watercolor version for herself to inspire others that would like to paint their own.

According to Maldonado, drawing the people was the most difficult part of the map. Using reference photos from people around town, including the Absurd April Fool’s Parade from Left Hand Artist Group, Maldonado had to draw each quarter inch figure and then spend another ten minutes finding the next photo to use.

“One person recommended I start doing gardens on the rooftops to fill out space, because I can just draw some generic plant shapes,” Maldonado said. “What made it go really fast was deciding ‘this rooftop is going to have musicians’ or ‘this rooftop is going to have birds.’”

Maldonado found herself getting more organized after that, collecting her photos in specific folders so that it was easier to find taco party references when the time came. Maldonado said it cut the time down from what she felt would be another year to a mere three weeks.

With the maps finally completed in June, Maldonado has both large and smaller versions of the map going to print. Maldonado plans to add the map prints to places that already carry her postcards, art kits and mugs. JavaStop and the LDDA are just the beginning, the hope is that all the businesses featured in her map will hang one up inside the shop.

“The map has wound up informing other work, like the mural I did on the window of Smokin’ Bowls over the winter,” Maldonado said.

More maps will come in time, Maldonado said. There are plans for more areas of downtown and other sections of Longmont as she refines the process in the fine details. 

“I definitely want to figure out how to make it easier on myself, so I can make more without spending six to eight months on each one,” Maldonado said.

The map will feature in the Longmont Museum’s latest exhibit, a celebration of Longmont’s 150 year history. The prints, along with her illustrated postcards and mugs, are now for sale in the Longmont Museum as well. According to the museum’s visitor services manager, Elizabeth Meyers, the mugs sold out quicker than expected. 

“Amanda’s work is so wonderfully unique and has a wide appeal,” Meyers said. “The timing was so perfect too, it weaving together with the 150th anniversary of the city.”

Maldonado and her map will be at the opening reception for the museum’s Longmont 150 exhibit on August 6. She plans to launch prints of the map through her Etsy store in September.


Matt Maenpaa

About the Author: Matt Maenpaa

An avid writer, editor and photographer, Matt strives for compassion and integrity.
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