The Essence of a City Drawn by London-Based Illustrator Jenni Sparks

Who doesn’t love maps? Alright, maybe some people might find them confusing, but a detailed hand-drawn map of a city is something you don’t see every day. We interviewed Jenni Sparks, the young London-based artist and illustrator behind these beautiful pieces. So far, she has painted London, San Francisco, New York, Berlin, and the latest one, Paris. How long do they take and what else does she do? All answered below. 


Why did you decide to start hand-drawing maps?

It was my first big commission after finishing university! I’d never really thought of drawing maps before, but Evermade asked me to and I thought it was a really cool project. Since then I’ve really got into it and I love making information visual so I think it was fate!

How long does it take you to draw one city?

From start to finish it takes about 3 months, with 2 months of that time spent drawing it all.

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Do you visit each city before you draw it or how do you get so many details?

After researching the city using books, documentaries and the internet, I’ll visit the city and meet the locals. It really helps to get a feel of the place and to get information I wouldn’t get without being there.

Berlin by Jenni SparksBerlin by Jenni Sparks-tiergartenprint02_670

We saw you’re on a long term trip now. During this time, what are the things you notice?

I’m currently travelling around India, Sri Lanka and Nepal for 3ish months to experience more of the world. I’ve taken loads of photos and drawn a few bits, which I’ll probably reflect on when I get back. In India there is so much colour, I’ve already bought some paint to take back with me as you simply can’t get the rich colours back in England.

What other cities are you planning to draw?

I have definitely got the travelling bug now. Cities I’d love to draw would be Tokyo, Barcelona, Shanghai, Moscow, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney, Rio De Janeiro, Dubai, and I could think of tons more too. I’ve just travelled through a beautiful city in Sri Lanka called Kandy which was set on a lake with beautiful green mountains and palm trees.

Aside from maps, what other kinds of illustrations do you do/like to do?

I like drawing type and pattern, and I’m starting to get more into design. I love drawing stuff that wouldn’t normally get drawn, everyday stuff like crisp packets or my bedroom wall.


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Hayo Magazine
Hayo Magazine

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