The idea – a map of the West End theatres

I finally decided to knuckle down and do an illustrated map of London’s major theatres.

I love maps, and I love theatres – so this has been an obvious project for a while. I’ve put it off, though, because illustrated maps are a lot of work. There are nearly 50 major theatres that you would expect to see on a map of London’s theatre land. That’s a lot of drawing, inking and colouring in!

Plus they need to combine pleasingly and present some kind of harmony on the page. Then there’s all the text – the theatre names (if used), the street names, etc.

And then there’s knowing what else to add. The theatres aren’t spaced out neatly, they are in clusters – little galaxies of theatres and then big voids. And some of the bestest theatres are likely to be off the map, like my beloved Victoria Palace! How to make the whole thing work …?

I had had one previous experience of creating a map – my map for astronomers and stargazers. I’m very pleased with the result – and proud of it. I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it. And I hope as I go on doing various kinds of ornamental maps, that I will become more skilled at the art form.

First things first

Anyway, first thing to do on my map of the West End theatres was to consider a basic street plan – A2 sized. I looked at Google’s maps, as well as some of the tourist maps of where the theatres are, and it became clear that I could get most of the theatres on an A-sized shape if I stretched south to north from the Embankment to New Oxford street, and then west to east from Regent St. and Whitehall to just past Southampton Row.

To pull out any further to include the theatres at Victoria, or more easterly theatres like Sadler’s Wells or the Barbican would make the illustrations too small and leave too much empty space. These outlying theatres would need to be moved inwards.

So if the London Palladium budged south a bit – that left room for the title and some spaces at the west, east and south for images of the Victoria Palace, Sadler’s Wells, Shakespeare’s Globe, etc.

Sadly, I decided to ignore the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It was just too far from the others to fit on a landscape-shaped map. If I reconfigure this map to portrait shape, I might include it then.