The Story of Far Sky...
Ben (M.Sc.) and Jenn (B.A.) Arril are the creators of Far Sky Map Works. Ben’s family has been making maps since the 1700s. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, Ben studied the art and science of Cartography at University - receiving a Masters Degree in Geography. Pursuing his passion for making maps, Ben began to map the story of the couple’s journey together. Out of this, Far Sky Map Works was born.
Based in Victoria, British Columbia, our goal at Far Sky Map Works is to help capture memories - of your hometown; your adventure; and everything in between. Our modern map art not only looks awesome, but is geographically accurate and precise. Ben utilizes state of the art cartographic techniques as well as satellite and aerial imagery to ensure each map is as detailed as possible. He digitizes all boundaries, coastlines and linear footprint (roads, trails, etc.) information from detailed survey plans and high resolution satellite and aerial imagery.
"Here at Far Sky, we try to take map art to a completely new level. I'm not just an artist... I'm a cartographer and I have years of training and education to help me create a piece that is not only artistically pleasing but geographically accurate and precise."
"I've been surrounded by art and maps my whole life. My family history includes my great grandfather C.W. Jefferys, an artist who was instrumental in the creation of Canada’s Group of Seven, and Thomas Jefferys, geographer to King George III in the 1700s."
"I've visited or lived in every place I've mapped. I believe that having a personal connection with each location gives me the passion to make a better map by considering the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the beauty of each landscape."
- Ben Arril, B.Sc., M.Sc.
Want to learn more about Far Sky Map Works? Check out our story in the St. Albert Gazette!
Each map is based on an experience of mine. I start with a memory. When was the last time I was there? What did I do? What did I see? Who did I meet? Who was I with? What changes occurred over the last few years? I try to paint a picture of what that place means to me in addition to recalling elements of the landscape - especially since my wife and I have every map on our own walls.
Research takes months. It's really important to me to maintain temporal and spatial accuracy when creating a map. I want it to be as precise and up-to-date as possible. I always try to contact the city or local government and ask questions about planning initiatives. I use everything from local municipal survey plans to dozens of county, provincial, and federal maps to compare and digitize the most accurate anthropogenic boundaries possible.
For coastal areas, I use multiple satellite and aerial photography sources to discern the most accurate coastline as possible. I tend to use seasonal imagery when the sea levels are at their lowest so I can maintain a larger land base for typographic maps.
Map projection is very important to me and I may or may not use the local projection system. When we take a round earth or rather an ellipsoid and put it on a flat map we loose certain qualities such as area, direction, shape, bearing, distance, and scale. I want to choose the system that maintains these qualities as best as possible while still creating an artistically pleasing map. I then place each letter individually and size it accordingly - it's like a very complex puzzle. I try to maintain a combination of kerning and alignment depending on the area.
It's really important to us to use environmentally friendly materials. All of our maps are professional printed using vibrant colours on 100lb FSC Certified cover stock. Our large maps are printed by a locally owned and operated printing company in Edmonton. Our small prints are printed by a small family owned 139 year old printing company in central Ontario. Our Desert Storm maps are on 100% post consumer recycled 100lb cover paper.
We have all of our maps in our home and we really wanted them to be easy (and cheap) to frame. However, choosing the most common frame type was quite a challenge. IKEA tends to skew the commonality because they use the metric system whereas everyone usually uses imperial. We chose to make our maps in two of the most common frame sizes - 8.5" x 11" and 16" x 20".
For our 8.5" x 11" (21.5 x 28 cm) maps, the largest selection of frames was found at IKEA. We love the RIBBA frame and use it most often in our home. You can also go to Michael's, Wallmart, HomeSense and Crate and Barrel. We often find frames that we really like in 8" x 10" so our maps can also be cut smaller into this size (we couldn't go smaller to larger but we can go larger to smaller).
For our 16" x 20" (40.64 x 50.8 cm) maps, you can pretty much go anywhere they sell frames except IKEA. We purchase most of our frames at Michael's (remember to use a 40% off coupon). You can also check out Home Sense, JYSK, London Drugs, Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Thanks for stopping by. Please don't hesitate to contact Jenn and I (Ben) with any questions. We'd love to hear from you!