DIY, Holidays, Home

Handmade Holiday: Illustrated Map of Memories

Family and friends devour anything that reminds them of good times past, so turn your memories into art!

Turn your Memories into Art

I created a pretty literal black and white interpretation of my home state using Adobe Illustrator. I outlined Indiana and it’s counties, and filled them with 2 different free fonts downloaded from

But you can use any medium, like micron artist pens, prisma colors, or paint—to create an illustration. And you can use any ‘map’—geographical or exaggerated, flat, dimensional… This isn’t so much a tutorial as a guide how to express your memories in a creative visual form. How extravagant the result is up to your imagination! But I can suggest some tips on how to get started and stay organized.


Indiana Map o fMemories


Artist Pens, Paint, Charcoal, Pencils, or medium of choice.

Illustration board or Sketching Paper

Reference Maps (optional)

Transfer Paper (optional)


1.) Make a list of the fun stuff you’ve experienced with your friend or family member. Favorite parks, destinations, other friends or family members homes and party spots all make for good content.

2.) If you’re using a literal map, source your materials, and size ’em up. Find your globe, atlas, or online reference picture you’ll be copying. Scan and print your reference materials the size you want.

3.) Use transfer paper or graphite to copy the reference material onto your illustration board or sketching paper. Place the transfer paper between the reference material and final board or paper, and use removable tape or something to hold everything in place. Trace atop the parts of the reference materials you want to copy. This will give you the cleanest transfer. You could also scribble graphite onto the back of your reference material, then tape the graphite side down to the final paper, and trace the parts of the reference material you want to copy. It works the same way, but isn’t as clean.

3.) Layout your journey through text in creative ways, adding icons and embellishments where you feel necessary. If you’re having layout troubles, you might want to start with a few practice pieces of paper, cutout individually so you can move them around your map’s counties and see what fits best where. And practice drawing text artistically before you commit to a style. Or search the wide online world of free fonts for ideas! It’s all about pre-visualization. Artistic text styling goes against the functionality—but the decorations are creative, fun and all part of your personal touch that help unite your unique story!

4.) If you run out of ideas, fill in negative space with inspiring words like hope, love and family. Works every time! I also used things like my hometown longitude and latitude, old doctors and current dentists (there’s seriously a TON of counties in Indiana) and other places I’ve been outside of the state. I simply made a cute arrow graphic to accompany those destinations!

Have fun with it!

Remember, if you spend time and energy to get creative writing down memories, your unique gift will be appreciated, and may even bring you closer together!

G’luck with your illustrations! And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Happy Handcrafted Gift Tutorial!

—Catfight Craft

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