Using tools in unconventional ways to make good art (or music).
We have a daughter who is about 20 months old. She's got all these 'educational' toys (put the square block in the square hole etc), but she actually has more fun with a bunch of clothes pegs and a tea towel. These items do more than one thing and there is no 'right' way to play with the object....I really like that. Then I saw this guy playing a guitar on boing boing. He plays the guitar in a most unconventional way - it's his own way, but makes good music.
All of this makes me wonder whether we're producing too many 'cookie cutter' maps, the tools we have are virtually limitless in what they can do, but we tend to produce variations of the same maps over and over again.
I never stop experimenting
Even though it may be true that in the last few months, I've been working with a specific style of hand-drawn merged with digital enhancements and a softer color palatte for many of my maps - right now I'm trying every possible experiment within that particular style. However, everybody except the newbies, know that I sometimes do photo-realistic maps using photo textures, sometimes I play with 3D elements that I model/texture/render for a specific map, and rarely I play with the "satelite style map" so popular here. I seldom stick to one regimen, and while I generally stick to using Xara Xtreme, I accompany its use with many other apps.
I admire many of the specific styles done by CoyoteMax, Immolate, Djekspek, Pasis, Tear, and all the other "stars" of the Guild, but seldom try to copy them - I prefer developing my own.
I do think that anyone familiar with my varying styles, would recognize the work even if they didn't see my name on it, still, I don't think I would ever call my maps "cookie cutter."