Jim Niehues – Map maker Ace!

I recently discovered two great new likes;

First was ‘Another Escape’, the beautifully designed outdoor lifestyle publication out of Bristol. The design and content covering creative culture, sustainable living, nature and maps captivated me instantly. When accompanied with a cup of tea and my studio armchair I had found a happy sense of serenity!

And secondly, Jim Niehues – In an article written by himself and beautifully photographed by Rebecca Stumpf (who took the above photo), I quickly found myself new inspiration and a new idol. Jim Niehues paints wonderful ski maps (and other things!). Not only are the maps truly breathtaking, intricate and informative, he articulates himself, his craft and his journey with the upmost diligence and enthusiasm.

Jim’s journey to where he is now has really inspired me. As a map maker, illustrator or creative in general, there is a lot of pressure (largely self inflicted) for the trajectory of success to be at constant incline. I can tell you that this has not been the case for me and nor do I believe it to be common for most self employed creatives. The problem is that you are responsible for carving a new path, the rungs of a ladder you might climb in alternative careers simply haven’t been made yet, and if they have they are most likely supporting another pair of feet. Consequently the route (excuse the map metaphor) is full of plenty of wrong turns, with occasional stumbles down paths of fruitful opportunity.

In the last couple of years I have managed to make my map illustration a full time job, however it still has it’s ups and downs. It would be very fair to say, I ain’t doing this job for the money! It has to be for the love of what you are doing, and I hope this translates into my passion coming to the surface of each map I draw.

In Jim’s case he sidestepped from his dream in his mid twenties, searching for steadier income, but reunited with it 15 years later. This happened quite coincidently after bumping into Bill Brown (another great map maker) who saw Jim’s incredible potential. All of a sudden his dreams and ambitions were back on track. This profoundly inspired me as it was a tale of a real creative’s journey to success. Success won’t be immediate, life will get in the way but if you keep that hope and desire burning eventually your path might become clear. In Jim’s case it has developed into an incredible career, one in which I will gladly aspire towards.

Too much pressure is placed on creatives to always be outwardly confident, as confidence is attractive to clients. True as this is, too much stoicism can also detract from the incredible efforts and resilience creative people have to show on a daily basis.

Read ‘Another Escapes’ article written by Jim Niehues here, and visit Jim’s personal website here.