Connie Brown and her Studio
Here at Redstone Studios, I paint one-of-a-kind wall maps on canvas for private clients, companies and organizations. In my thirty years as a map artist, I’ve mapped regional and global travels, treks, safaris, road trips, weddings, honeymoons, properties, retreats, life histories, family migrations, school campuses, inns, historic districts, environmental regions. My clients commission me to celebrate journeys, accomplishments, and beloved places, sometimes as special gifts for their partners, children, parents, friends, or colleagues, or (in the case of companies and organizations) as public art. Some maps portray high adventure in exotic locations; others celebrate the quiet pleasures of retreat and relaxation; still others commemorate special events. Whatever the case, all of them celebrate not just geography but human spirit as well.
Each map I make tells a story. One, entitled “It’s a Jungle Out There,” shows the travels of a couple who circled the globe at the equator, looking at animal species; another documents a couple’s journey to China to pick up their adoptive baby girl. I’ve mapped Civil War experiences for the great-grandchildren of soldiers, a tiger reserve in India for a documentary filmmaker, a turkey plantation in Alabama, a wedding week in Tuscany, a private pilot’s trip from Nantucket to Cape Town, an antique-car rally in British Columbia, a birdwatcher’s trip to Antarctica, an Oregon family’s annual summer vacation in the Cascades, New England country homes and Texas ranches. Each one is unique.
Every map exhibits an aesthetic approach that suits the client and the project. Some of my maps feature the exuberant elements found in Renaissance cartography: borders, cartouches, elaborate lettering, and illustrations. Occasionally a client asks me to create a map in the style of a particular cartographer from the past, or a particular contemporary artist or style. For other projects, I take design cues from the decorative arts motifs and/or natural elements and colors of the region I’m mapping.
Just as I portray journeys on canvas, the evolution of any map project is a journey with my client. My aim is to create a map that accurately reflects a particular geography while conveying its beauty and importance through my client’s eyes. This requires collaboration--the client talks, I listen, we gather information together, and we brainstorm. I love this planning stage, and I think my clients do, too. I’m not merely collecting data: clients, once they’ve entered the spirit of the project, become engaged and contribute creative ideas. It’s great when we can actually meet in person, but we can also communicate meaningfully via phone and e-mail. Either way, it’s a very personal service.
Once the collaborative stage is over, the design stage begins: I create 5 or 6 compositional drawings along with descriptions and prices for each, returning to the drawing board as many times as it takes to meet my client’s vision. After we’ve agreed upon a design, I start painting, an old-fashioned process that takes at least a month. I don’t run a cottage industry: I wear all the hats. It's an intimate business.
Reproduction: Working closely with art printer Mike Suozzi, I offer archival pigment prints for clients who want museum-quality reproductions of their Redstone Studios original maps, or for businesses and organizations who would like prints to sell or to give to members or supporters. Mike and I are also able to produce map notecards or postcards for clients.
Finally, dollars and cents: I price maps according to size and complexity. In general, 3 x 4’ maps begin at $10,000; the smallest size, 24 x 30’, begins at $5,000. Public lobby-sized maps are obviously more costly.
In Gratitude: I'm indebted to family and colleagues: my children Greg, Andrew, and Liza Neustaetter, who inspire me (Greg built my first website in 1999 and is my tech and design advisor; Liza lends general advice and edits my leaky prose); Duncan Milne, who over the years has lent aid and an infallible critical eye; Mike Suozzi, master art printer and colleague; Caryn Davis, who photographs my maps and sometimes me; past assistants Anthony Florio, and more recently Grace Teodosio; noted cartographic historian Chet Van Duzer, always a cheerleader; Jim Reinhart, Madison CT framer par excellence; all the journalists who are kind enough to feature me in the press, and the gang at Box8Creative, who created this website.