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Maps That Reflect How Locals Understand Their Cities: An Interview with Archie of Archie's Press

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

We spoke with Archie, of Archie's Press, to find out more about his history, inspiration, and his work.

Archie designs letterpress printed maps that depict cities and states that locals of those places can clearly recognize and identify. His no-frills aesthetic is part of what makes these maps so clear and easy to read. Rather than placing an importance on geography, which most maps do, Archie's prints illustrate the neighborhoods that locals are familiar with. This more personal portrayal of cities and states is what draws people to Archie's maps.


Where are you from, and what city/state do you work out of now? 

I'm originally from Providence, Rhode Island, spent six years in Portland, OR and now I live in New York City. 

What do you design? 

I make maps of cities that reflect a local's understanding of the place, using lots of circles and no color. I use circles because they're simple, and show scale super-simply. I work with designers from different cities to make sure the map really looks like it came from a person who lived there. 

Lately I've been working on different subjects besides cities like the Solar System, Anatomy and more abstract concepts. Everything is letterpress printed and sold as a print. 

What has influenced your work the most?

I learned everything I know about graphic design from messing around in a letterpress shop. Pretty much all the rules and constraints regarding typography and layout are based on letterpress technology. That gave me a really strong respect for organization and simplicity, which is necessary if you're going to start using letterpress. It's actually something that I've been struggling with my whole life. I'm a disorganized hoarder who can never find their keys, I'm usually scatterbrained and overwhelmed. I think my design practice forces me to slow down and focus on making things very simple. It's funny that I've gotten really good at it, my instincts are to scribble and throw paint around, but I end up making things that are very tight and contained.

Out of all of the products that you have designed, what are you most fond of or connected to, and why? 

I made a map of the United States Government that I'm particularly fascinated by. It's something that should be hanging in every school classroom, but it's not. People really need to know about their government. There's a lot going on in the "machine" that is impossible to describe in one graphic, so

I'm planning to expand it into a book.

What defines your work or brand and sets it apart from others out there?

Everything I make promises to be useful in one way or another, and I think that's something many people don't do. It's really difficult to distinguish yourself as an illustrator, so I don't even try to draw in that way. I think the hardest thing is to hold back from corrupting your "big idea", and adding lots of flashy graphics that don't really make sense for the brand. On the one hand it's limiting to stick with one style, but  it also gives you the ability to grow and expand upon a good idea and create a sharp identity. I'm always tinkering with new ideas which is totally essential to staying sane and growing.

Follow Archie's Press on Instagram: @archiespress

Follow The American Design Club on Instagram: @americandesignclub

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