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Our Story

In the case of Blue is the Land, “we” is really “me.” My name is Derek Howles. I’m a designer from New York City, and I’ve loved geography ever since I was old enough to obsessively scour my parents’ world atlas.

When my now-wife and I moved in together a few years ago, I designed a series of neighborhood maps representing four of the cities — Schenectady, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and Raleigh — where we’d lived. It wasn’t long before friends and family saw them on our wall and asked if I could create versions for other cities, too. In late 2013 I started Blue is the Land to share my love of geography and design with a wider audience.

I’m fascinated by how neighborhoods are formed and what they can tell us about a city. I take great care to accurately represent neighborhood names and boundaries — which means relying on personal experience, reading news stories, searching blogs and social media, scouring real estate listings, and, of course, talking to folks who actually live there.

It all boils down to my ultimate goal: to design something you’ll be excited about, something that allows you to represent your favorite place with pride.