Left: A final map of all of Raleigh's neighborhoods defined.
Right: My first day interviewing residents and photographing neighborhood motifs to incorporate into illustrations.


Defining Raleigh's Neighborhoods

Raleigh is a rapidly growing southern city in North Carolina. Its neighborhoods have been shifting, growing, and disappearing over the past 50 years. When I started to research Raleigh’s neighborhoods in 2021, I found that a single cohesive map of Raleigh downtown neighborhoods doesn’t exist yet. All the maps I found in my research were incomplete and tended to focus on the protected, historically white neighborhoods over the lesser known historically Black neighborhoods.

Before I could even start illustrating, I had to identify every neighborhood so all downtown communities were honored and represented. For several months I walked every quadrant of Raleigh and interviewed residents in person and asked them to outline their neighborhoods on my ipad, which I cross referenced with official documentation from local historians and professors in the area.

I ultimately identified over 30 neighborhoods. While exploring, I photographed visual motifs in architecture and foliage so every inch of my map would align with the physical motifs of the neighborhoods themselves. 

Left: Rough illustration incorporating motifs identified from the reference photographs I took on-site (middle)
Right: Research notes of Raleigh's Black neighborhoods by name, significance, and referenced motifs

Hand Lettering

Capturing Neighborhood Character

I hand-lettered the names of the 30+ neighborhoods I identified in an effort to capture the *vibe* if you will of each location. I drew inspiration from signs, historic hand lettering, and local designers.

1. Rough neighborhood name sketches to get a feeling for how the neighborhood names should flow in the overall composition of the map
2. More precise hand sketching
3. Final refinement within the larger illustration


Bringing each neighborhood to life

I drew from the shops, architecture, traditions, foliage, history, and geography unique to each neighborhood to fill the map with dense illustrations. Every element on the map is there for a reason.

Final Map

After feedback from local Raleigh residents and local historian Carmen Cauthen, the map is produced and ready to distribute.


Between Land and Sky

Vignettes of National Park trips across five years.