Hug a mapper today!
Well, I didn't want to hijack a fellow members thread, so I thought I'd make a new one.. but thinking about wages for a mapper made me think of some other trends I've seen... not all in the mapping field, but definitely related.
I think it goes hand-in-hand when doing things people don't truely understand. First off, I'm a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist, so I create a number of professional maps for use in the industry.. The most common are simple in-set maps, a lot of them deal with demographics, so data, classification, etc... The other thing I do (which takes most of my time) are web maps... All in all, I've found that even people who have a general understanding of GIS do not really understand the amount of work that goes into even a simple map. They may know what a shapefile is, or what a projection is... but all said and done, for someone in GIS, 90% of the work is on data. Finding data, making it usable, quantifying, and making it look pretty. People often show up out of the blue, and request a map, or a website... and figure it's like organizing a shelf... you have everything there, and you just need to put it in the right spot... most of the time.. thats not the case.
Another example which comes to mind is connected to a hackerspace I recently joined... 3D printing is a new fad, and everyone wants to print out everything they can imagine... The problem is, no one realizes how much work is involved... You can buy a cheap hobby printer with decent quality for around 2k... First, trying to build said printer is not for those who have never touched machinery in their life, and beyond that.. You also need to know quite a bit about electronics.
After that, you're still not out of the woods, because even tho you may have a working printer... It's not the type of equipment you can just start printing and leave the room. it requires constant supervision, often reaching in and pulling out stray pieces of plastic... when your prints can take 3, 5, even 15 hours... thats a pretty big timesink.
Even beyond that, people don't really realize that you actually need to 3d model what you want to make.. and models are and artwork in themselves...
The member at our hackerspace creates absolutely beautiful figures, mainly comic book characters... (here's his deviantart page AYsculpture on deviantART)
he sells them for rediculous ammounts of money to people all over the world ($4000-$7000 for a simple, coffee-mug sized one)... the thing is, he's a professional animator, he used to work in the gaming industry, but was fed up with how they treated him... so now he makes his models for printing... so far he's got around 8 3d printers, and 2-3 of them were traded to him for a model.. all of which were from people who thought it was pretty simple to just get a 3d printer, print out figurines, smooth em and paint em, and rake in the cash selling them... most don't get the printers together, those that do can print things fine, but find they have no models to print... in the end, after spending a few thousand.. they realize how much goes into one of this guys prints.
aaaand that brings me back to fantasy mapping... It's quite a niche market, and very much an organic thing. I'd say its worth much more than the majority of people pay for it.. and the reason they can get away with paying less is because... well.. we enjoy doing it. breathing life to a world in the form of mapping is a great experience, and being able to do so is extremely fun and exciting.
But in the end, anything and everything you can do to make it easier for a cartographer to make a map is helpful. giving them a sketch of a map's continents and telling them to go nuts is going to give you very loose control of your world... while offering up tomes of information on the world can help the mapper to preform the cartography in a much more artistic way, without have so much to think and create in their own mind.
this is really just something i've thought about and noticed, not meant to be any sort of criticism or anything... i'd be interested to see what others have to say, correct, or add to my thoughts...
I'm studying to be a GIS specialist right now and I've learned VERY quickly how much work it is to create a simple map. 95% of my final project for my Intro GIS class was finding the data I needed and creating shapefiles for EVERY SINGLE THING! The thing is though, I loved it, and the final map turned out amazing in my opinion. I was so proud of the hard work, late nights, and many cups of coffee I had to put up with to get it all together.
I had a friend over the summer give me a drawing of a map of one of his DnD games that he wanted me to create for him. I don't know how many hours I put into that map, but I had to learn a lot of new things on ArcMap that I hadn't used before just to create it. But again, that was probably the greatest experience ever for me. And he loved the end result.
You're right, a lot of my friends didn't understand how much work it is to create a simple map. But all the hard work, sweat, and lack of sleep pays off every time when you can look at your finished project and be stupid happy about it. It may look simple, but its work, and its a career path that we take because we love what we do. I can't wait to finally say that this is my career. Right now, I can only say this is my passion and my major in college :)