Map Commissions

Thank you for your interest in commissioning a map from me!
This page is intended as a rough guide to a process that has worked well in past, but I am happy to discuss alternative arrangements, answer questions, or take a call, just get in touch:

Process & Schedule

I’ll want to start by asking you a few questions about your work and the communication objectives of your diagrams (email’s great, but alternatively happy to meet you and say hi on a zoom call).

Once I’ve been supplied all information needed, I will provide a draft version of your diagram(s), typically within 5-10 days, depending on the complexity of the image. You can provide any edits and comments on the draft, then I will provide a draft final within a few days. (Repeat as needed to get to the perfect final image, but I will likely need to add extra fees if the content of the image changes drastically once we’re underway. I have found most commissions typically only need a “draft” and a “final” submission, if we ask the right questions before getting into design work).

I’ll send your print-ready images once you’ve signed off on the work, after which I’ll invoice (see below). The entire process can take as little as 2-3 weeks if you are quick with your feedback, but this depends on complexity of the image.

Note — I can sometimes work on a faster schedule, but I will typically need to add a rush fee to accommodate quick-turnaround work. 


Colour: I can produce maps in colour or greyscale as required. (Note: as a default, I recommend greyscale for maximum flexibility with academic publications — it’s much easier to go from greyscale to colour than the reverse!)

File type: If you are aware of any publisher specs, please let me know, but I can export to most formats needed (i.e. .JPG, .EPS, .TIF, .PDF, etc). I assume print as the default use of the image.

Size: I assume a size around 6” x 9” as a default for publication, but have produced much larger maps as well!

Interactivity: I do not typically work on “interactive”, web-hosted maps, but I am open to working with a web developer to meet the needs of your project.

Cost & Quotes

No two maps are exactly alike, so instead of a flat rate, I estimate my time at approx. $50/hr.

  • Simple maps are typically within a range of $150 - $250 / ea.
  • Complex maps are typically within a range of $400 - $700 /ea.
  • What do I mean by a “simple map”? A region with a few natural elements (e.g. relevant rivers, bodies of water, mountain ranges), a few labels / icons (e.g. cities, political borders, transport routes, etc), and a few map elements (e.g. legend, scale, etc).
  • Examples of elements that add complexity: colour, lots of detailed textures, customized icons, illustration. (I love creating illustrated maps, but little people and animals take time to render!)
  • For larger batches of map, a “volume discount” of sorts will apply (rendering many maps with the same style and using the same data reduces time).

Of course, any data that you can provide me from your own research that reduces my research and design time will be factored into cost.

If you have a pre-existing budget, I’m happy to discuss and troubleshoot what’s possible — there’s often a way to make something work! 

I am happy to issue a formal quote (PDF format) upon request, though I will need to get a few details from you first to accurately judge the amount of time needed.

Finally, I do my best to try and be very transparent about costing so there aren't any surprises when it comes to invoicing!

Information I’ll Need

This will vary from project to project, but in general, some things I will ask you for once we get started: 

  1. A brief description of the communication objective of the map (this can be discussed by email or on a call)

  2. A list (or visuals) of elements to include (e.g. any particular cities, geographic elements, political borders, legend items, etc). For the sake of readability and customization to your project, I recommend focusing in on the most relevant items, rather than trying to include absolutely everything in a region!

  3. I am always happy to receive “style reference” images — whether it’s a piece from my portfolio, an image from your research, or just something cool that caught your eye recently, it’s helpful for me to see what visual style appeals to you. (For instance, something very “clean and contemporary” versus something with a bit more of a “historic” or even “antique” look). But, if you don’t know what you want, don’t worry, I’ll propose something!

Invoicing & Payment

As with my illustration work, I invoice at the end of the project (unless the project is quite large in scope or will take many months to complete).

I bill in Canadian dollars if you are in Canada (please note that HST will apply); I bill in American dollars if you are in the U.S.A. (no taxes will apply).

I accept all manner of payment types, such as mailed cheques, wire transfer (if American or international), PayPal payment, e-transfer (if within Canada). Some folks find it easier to pay directly rather than go through their academic departments; either is fine with me and I’ve navigated many a payment portal in my time!

Data & Process

I use open-source data (e.g. Natural Earth, OpenStreetMap, etc) and the GIS program “QGIS” build my base map, and Adobe Illustrator to do my map styling.

Of course, open source data can have errors, especially when depicting historic information; I rely on close collaboration with my commissioners to ensure accuracy! I welcome additional resources and data (e.g. historic maps, shapefiles, etc) to help inform the process.

Lastly, please note that I am a graphics and visualization specialist first, and a cartographer second — for complex GIS work (e.g. projects requiring real-time satellite imagery, web interactivity, data analysis, etc), I encourage you to consult with a GIS professional.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ll be in touch!

 © Meredith Sadler 2022. No reuse without permission.