“Working as a map illustrator can be tricky,” says commercial illustrator Carolyn Vibbert. “Maps have to be fun, so you want to look at them – but informative, too.” Carolyn has partnered with clients in categories as diverse as tourism, real estate and healthcare, so she’s well-versed in how to communicate through geography.

Map of Irvine for a real estate development client by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert


“For the Irvine map, the client wanted to showcase the green space incorporated into their development, but also include landmarks so viewers can find and enjoy the parks and trails closest to them.” Carolyn works on the maps and any necessary icons concurrently, integrating them as she goes.

Illustrated tourism map of Spain by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert

“For the Spain map, the request was to show the various food regions of the country, whereas when I worked on the map for Portsmouth it was more focused on general attractions and services,” she says. “I do a lot of research on the web to find the local flora and fauna, local topography and whatever makes a place special.”

Illustrated tourism map of Taos, New Mexico by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert

Color plays an important role, as well. “I often limit the number of colors in my maps to keep the design cohesive,” says Carolyn. “And the colors reflect the sense of place. For example, for Portsmouth I chose a palette fitting of a historical colonial city.”

Illustrated map of Huntington Hospital by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert

Most importantly, in order to be useful, a map has to draw in the viewer. “I like to keep the energy up in my work, so I’ll alternate the sizes of icons, or even mix styles a bit so it’s more playful,” explains Carolyn.

Illustrated map of Nantucket by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert

With an extensive portfolio that includes maps, icons, logos, landscapes, people and more, Carolyn has drawn in viewers – and clients – of all types. You can see more of her work here.

Black and white illustrated map of Italy by commercial artist and map illustrator Carolyn Vibbert