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Cartographer Chronicles: Glen Pawelski

Cartographer Chronicles Glen Pawelski

In this edition of Cartographer Chronicles, we hear from Glen Pawelski. Glen is a skilled cartographer with particular expertise in creating maps for the educational, travel and trade industries. With an interest in other subjects related to cartography, such as geology, he has explored and researched both professionally and personally throughout his career. Glen has been a North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) member for over thirty years, including two terms on the Board of Directors. In this edition, Glen is sharing his journey through his career so far in his own words, beginning with his interest in maps since his youth all the way to his current projects.


Career Overview

I’ve been enchanted with maps since an early age. In elementary school, I would grab NatGeo magazines from the library, place paper over the maps and trace them. Besides maps, it was apparent that I had an interest in other scientific fields, such as astronomy and geology.

This eventually led me to study geography and cartography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I studied with Dr. Sona Andrews, who really fueled my interest in cartography. While at UWM I took undergrad courses in cartography, GIS, human and physical geography, archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, and geomorphology. I also worked creating maps and graphics at the Cartography Lab within the Geography Department.

I gained a wealth of experience and knowledge while working at the lab. This led to internship opportunities: one semester at the Bureau of Land Management and another at a local GIS firm. It was also at this time that Dr. Andrews recruited me to work at my first NACIS conference in Milwaukee in 1991.

My education continued into my Master’s program at UWM where, after one year, I was whisked away to the professional world of map-making. A chance connection at an AAG conference in 1993 led to an on-site interview which resulted in landing my first job as a ‘Digital Cartography Coordinator’ at The H.M. Gousha Company in Texas.

Gousha North America Map by Glen Pawelski

After Rand McNally acquired the company and closed its doors, I moved to NovoPrint USA in Milwaukee and XNR Productions/Terra Carta in Madison. I have called Mapping Specialists home for the past 13 years, and there you will find me happily working away on any of dozens of active projects.

I’ve been involved with NACIS since that student ‘volunteer’ time in 1991. I served two separate terms on the Board of Directors and also served as Local Arrangements Co-Organizer. Every year the NACIS conference acts as a driving force in my own professional development and a mechanism for fostering the many long-term friendships I’ve been so fortunate to make.

Cartographic Highlights

I must say what an honour it was to be a part of the 1996 Olympic Games effort. Gousha produced a series of maps for the Olympics, and I travelled to Atlanta to meet representatives from The Atlanta Committee for the Games of the XXVI Olympiad. Quite the experience!

1996 Olympics Events Map by Glen Pawelski

The exact year escapes me, but I recall working with Avenza while at Gousha performing some very early testing for the MAPublisher set of tools for Adobe Illustrator.

Battle of Bennington Map by Glen Pawelski

Since then, MAPublisher has become an integral part of everything I create, from textbook maps to historical maps in books such as The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, The Compleat Victory by Kevin Weddle, and The Earth is Weeping by Peter Cozzens.

Colorado River Delta Map by Glen Pawelski

MAPublisher also provided essential tools for my workflow on other professional projects, as well as some personal ones. For example, I was honored to be a part of the documentary film, and subsequent book, The Colorado. In addition to the incredible imagery and story behind the film, the maps that I made provided the necessary context for the different discussions throughout the story, and honestly, that felt pretty good. It was humbling to see the film screening in multiple cities, including at The Kennedy Center in DC. Personal projects allow me to tinker around more with MAPublisher and other designs when I’m not at work, and I have a few examples of these here.

Biloxi Mississippi Map by Glen Pawelski
Burlington Wisconsin Map by Glen Pawelski

What’s Next?

I would say that I fit comfortably within what we used to call, “traditional cartography.” I entered the field just as the digital transition of map production was taking hold. I started with tools such as Atlas*GIS, CorelDraw!, Freehand, and the early, no-layering-Illustrator. Nowadays, I incorporate many more tools into the process. I am always looking at new approaches, new methods, and new tools to better tell the story the map was intended to tell, whether that’s incorporating Esri StoryMaps, using Blender or Eduard, or exploring other areas such as R and Python.

Combining the Power of Avenza Maps and MAPublisher

Have you ever thought about using Avenza Maps and MAPublisher together? Perhaps you’ve wanted to record the details of your trip, and use MAPublisher to create a map of your own. In this blog, we’ll walk you through how to do just that. 

Every day after work I go for a 3km run on the same trails near the Avenza office. To track this I can download a map of Toronto from the Avenza Map Store. After opening the map, I can use the Tracking tool to begin tracking the course of my run. I also would like to collect points of some important locations throughout the park. This layer contains an attribute schema regarding information about the points: whether they have a gate, have a building, have a map, and/or have a telephone.

I would now like to export my layers from Avenza Maps to a file format that I can use in MAPublisher to create a map. From the Layers tab, I can use the export button to export my track and point layers to a shapefile and save it to my Google Drive account.

On my computer, I can download the zipped file with my shapefiles in it and extract it. I can then import my data and begin working on my map. I want my map to be simple and easy to read. It is only for personal use so it will not be exceptionally detailed beyond information I might need in case of an emergency during my run. 

After finishing my map, I can use the MAPublisher Export tool to save it as a Geospatial PDF file. I can then import it on the Avenza Maps app and use it during my next run. Now I’ve just created my own map using the data I’ve collected from the Avenza Maps app!

Download Avenza Maps Today

Start recording your next walk, run, or hike by using the tracking tool in the Avenza Maps app, and then you can export this data into MAPublisher to create your very own map for next time.

Download the Avenza Maps app today, available on iOS or Android!

NACIS 2022 Recap

Avenza at NACIS 2022

A few weeks ago, between October 19th and 22nd, we had the pleasure of attending the 42nd North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. NACIS provides a casual and friendly atmosphere for map-lovers from all over the world to come together and share their passion for cartography. Avenza usually conducts our presentation at NACIS as a part of Practical Cartography Day (PCD), using the opportunity to give a sneak peek at what’s to come in the upcoming year for our products, and demonstrate some of the cool functionalities of MAPublisher.

During PCD we had the chance to share the latest and greatest tools in MAPublisher and Geographic Imager, and we also got to demo some of our favourite tools within MAPublisher. This year our presentation was headed by Nick Burchell, our Director of Quality Assurance here at Avenza, and Rebecca Bennett, our Publisher Success Coordinator. Nick highlighted the new and exciting features within our software this year, such as the new attribute viewer and erase tools in MAPublisher and georeferencing storage in PSD files in Geographic Imager. Rebecca closed out the presentation with a demonstration that focused on highlighting the usage of MAPublisher tools in creating a fantasy postal map of Toronto! Check out the presentation below:

After returning from Minneapolis, we had the opportunity to get a comment from Rebecca about her first time at NACIS:

“There were so many amazing and unique presentations this year, and it was really enjoyable and inspiring to be around so many talented cartographers and GIS professionals. Everyone has their own techniques and special flair with their maps and it was evident in their presentations, and also in the Map Gallery.”

“Overall NACIS is a wonderful place to meet like minded people and share your love of maps!”

Avenza Releases MAPublisher 11.1 for Adobe Illustrator

Toronto, ON, November 1, 2022 – Avenza Systems Inc., producers of the Avenza Maps® app for mobile devices and geospatial extensions for Adobe Creative Cloud®, including Geographic Imager® for Adobe Photoshop®, is pleased to announce the release of MAPublisher® 11.1 for Adobe Illustrator®. This version offers full compatibility with Adobe Illustrator 2023 (Version 27.0) as well as with the brand new macOS Ventura (version 13) update. It also includes maintenance and bug fixes.

MAPublisher cartography software seamlessly integrates more than seventy GIS mapping tools into Adobe Illustrator to help you create beautiful maps from geospatial data. Import industry-standard GIS data formats and make crisp, clean maps with all attributes and georeferencing intact using the Adobe Illustrator design environment.

Users require a valid Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and a compatible operating system to utilize the improvements and enhancements offered in MAPublisher 11.1. For questions and information on how compatibility requirements may affect your organization, please contact our Support Centre.

MAPublisher 11 is immediately available free of charge to all current MAPublisher users with active maintenance and as an upgrade for non-maintenance users starting at US$649. New licenses are available from US$1499. MAPublisher FME-Auto and MAPublisher LabelPro are also available as add-ons starting at US$499. Academic, floating, and volume licenses are also available. Prices include one year of full maintenance. Visit for more details.

More about Avenza Systems Inc.

Avenza Systems Inc. is an award-winning, privately held corporation that provides cartographers and GIS professionals with powerful software tools to make better maps. Avenza also offers the mobile Avenza Maps app to sell, purchase, distribute, and use maps on iOS and Android devices.
For further information contact: +1 416-487-5116 –

Webinar: Streamlining Processes Towards High-Quality Cartography

Hosted by Safe Software
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
10:00am to 11:00am EST

FME Auto is a powerful add-on that connects the GIS data processing environment of FME Desktop to the cartographic design and publishing environment of MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator. We’ll be appearing at this educational webinar hosted by Safe Software (creator of FME) about harnessing the power of this add-on to automate several of your cartographic processes. Nick Burchell from the Avenza team will be joining Hans van der Maarel from Red Geographics and Mark Ireland from Safe Software to demonstrate how FME shines as part of a high-end map production workflow. During the hour, you’ll be walked through:

  • An overview of MAPublisher’s extensive cartographic capabilities
  • An overview of FME and its basic cartographic capabilities, including the Illustrator format writer
  • How MAPublisher integrates FME with Adobe Illustrator directly
  • The power of automation to achieve faster map production

Sign up here if you are interested in learning more!

Join us for the #30DayMapChallenge!

Tomorrow is November 1st, which means it’s time to start another year of the #30DayMapChallenge! The challenge is a Twitter-based daily map challenge which involves posting a map that suits the daily theme each day and tagging it with the hashtag #30DayMapChallenge. It was first started by Topi Tjukanov in 2019 and has been growing in popularity ever since. In 2021, the challenge ended up with over 9,000 submitted maps!

The daily themes for the challenge are posted in early October each year, giving participants about a month to get a head start on planning some of their maps. Some examples of daily themes include maps that show colours, hexagons, fantasy, or islands. Some of the themes also function as a challenge, such as creating a “bad” map, the 5 minute map challenge, as well as a map that is created using new tools outside of your comfort zone.

This year, we’ll be sharing some of our own maps created by Avenza employees, and highlighting some on-theme maps from the Avenza Map Store! We’re looking forward to seeing all of the interesting and innovative maps floating around the #30DayMapChallenge hashtag on Twitter. Remember, participants can post as many or as few maps as they wish. At the end of the day, it comes down to engaging in the ever growing community of cartography-lovers.

We’ll see you on Twitter tomorrow for the Day 1 theme: points! Happy mapping!

For more information about the #30DayMapChallenge – including the 2022 daily themes, visit the official website or check out the GitHub repository!

Exploring the New MAP Erase Tools in MAPublisher

With the recent release of MAPublisher 11.0, the plugin now comes with a new set of three MAP Erase tools in its arsenal. In this blog, we would like to highlight how these tools work and differentiate between each of them.

Much like the MAP Crop tools, there are three slightly differing tools in the MAP Erase toolset: MAP Vector Erase Tool, MAP Vector Erase, and MAP Erase by Shape. The advanced settings for the MAP Erase tools are shared with the MAP Crop tools, and can be accessed in the MAPublisher Preferences window under “MAP Crop Tool”.

Also like the MAP Crop tools, there are limitations to the types of artwork that can be erased using these tools. The purpose of MAP Vector Erase is to cut and remove vector data (points, lines, and polygons), however some Adobe Illustrator-specific objects may not be erased properly using this tool:

  • Blend and Live Paint objects
  • Any art using effects that have been rasterized
  • Custom art such as scale bars, grids/graticules, north arrows (this art must be expanded to crop)
  • Compound shapes
  • Legacy and overflowing text
  • Locked objects (command box: either treat locked layers as unlocked or skip locked layers)
  • Hidden layers (command box: either crop hidden layers or skip hidden layers)
  • Images

MAP Vector Erase Tool

The MAP Vector Erase Tool can be selected from the Illustrator menu. You can draw a rectangle or ellipse shape on the portion of the map you would like to erase.

You can also click anywhere on the artboard which will open the MAP Vector Erase dialog box and specify crop options. Which leads us to the next Erase tool…

MAP Vector Erase

MAP Vector Erase can be accessed from the MAP Toolbar in the Geoprocessing section under the Crop menu as well. This will also result in the MAP Vector Erase dialog box opening. There are a few options you can use to customize how you want your erase shape to be created, as shown below. In my case, I have created a bounding box to perform my erase with, and I would like to apply it to all layers in my document.

You can also click the Advanced… button for further options, which is useful for deciding how your labels are affected by the MAP Erase tools.

The final result is very similar to the previous step, however the MAP Vector Erase dialog box allows for much more customization and specificity.

MAP Erase by Shape

The final tool in the Erase series is the MAP Erase by Shape tool, which is also located in the Crop menu of the Geoprocessing section of the MAP Toolbar. This tool can only be opened when there is a single polygon selected on the document, which will be the bounds for the erasure. The MAP Erase by Shape tool is useful when you wish to erase an area that is not a rectangular or elliptical shape. For example, in this example, I used the shape of Banff National Park to erase this portion of my map.

For more information about MAPublisher’s new MAP Erase tools, please visit our Support Centre.

Cartographer Chronicles: Julie Witmer

Cartographer Chronicles Julie Witmer Avenza MAPublisher

Julie Witmer’s road to cartography has not always taken the most conventional route, but in the past decade she’s already made her mark on the industry. As the owner of Julie Witmer Custom Map Design based in Kitchener, Ontario, Julie creates maps for a variety of client types, including municipalities, publications, and tourism. She applies her skills both in cartography and her previous fields of expertise to approach map-making in a way that encourages people to explore and connect with their communities. In this edition of Cartographer Chronicles we explore Julie’s story largely in her own words, including her journey to discovering a career in cartography, her experience with crafting maps so far, and how she envisions her business moving forward.

Portage La Prairie map by Julie Witmer using MAPublisher

Cartography became Julie’s third career path after a decade as an archaeologist and nearly 15 years in IT. 

“I’ve always loved maps – collecting them during my travels – but it never occurred to me that it was something you could do for a living. After I was laid off from BlackBerry in 2011, I decided to go back to school. And when I saw that Fleming College offered a GIS Cartography program, it was like a light turned on.”

After graduating from Fleming’s Cartographic Specialist program, Julie worked to build her cartography career the way she envisioned it.

“At Fleming when we talked about the kind of work we wanted to do, I kept saying ‘I just want to make pretty maps.’ I knew that I didn’t want to work in a cubicle farm or for a large company again, but I did work for almost a year for an archaeology company in London, Ontario, making a dozen maps a day for reports. It was hectic but I loved that it combined my interests.”

“I still wanted to work for myself and decided to be a freelancer. It was tough going for the first few years, but in the past 2-3 years (with a temporary slowdown for the first wave of the pandemic), my business has grown to what I envisioned.”

Vaughan Ontario map by Julie Witmer using MAPublisher

Julie has designed maps for a plethora of local and international clients spanning many different types of organizations, and she tailors her approach to fit each of them uniquely.

“Over the years I’ve worked on cycling maps for municipalities, tourism and trail maps for visitor guides and tourism-focused businesses, maps for non-profit organizations for planning and education, and a LOT of book maps.”

“When people contact me about making a custom map, I’ll arrange a project consultation to get more information about their project – content, style, size, media, timeline, the purpose of the map and its intended audience.”

South Algonquin trails map by Julie Witmer using MAPublisher

Many of Julie’s clients, especially municipalities, often come to her with their own datasets for her to use. If not, she’s a fan of Natural Earth or OpenStreetMap data.

“For [OSM data] I use QGIS and the QuickOSM plugin to download data for the coverage area. For everything else (Natural Earth, WFS or WMS services), I’ll grab the data in MAPublisher and spatially filter it to my map view.”

“I create a very simple layout map to establish the coverage area and scale, and then work on the first design draft. Sometimes we have a few revisions with minor style or content tweaks. When my client has approved the final draft, I send them the print-ready image files.”

Craft Gin trail map by Julie Witmer using MAPublisher

Julie is an avid and experienced MAPublisher user, as it plays a role in all of her projects. Her history with the program goes back to her time at Fleming.

“I first used MAPublisher at Fleming and I loved it! The archaeology company was an ESRI shop, but when I started my own business I went back to MAPublisher. I love that it’s a local company (well, almost local to me – in Toronto, just down the road from Kitchener). Avenza’s support is amazing, and they are constantly adding new features and incorporating feature requests from customers like me.”

“MAPublisher is the tool that I use most often, pretty much every day. Even if I use other tools to acquire and clip vector data, or manipulate raster images, everything ends up in MAPublisher where I do all the design work.”

She has begun using Avenza Maps in her work, both for collecting and recording data and offering her maps using the Avenza Map Store.

“I recently started creating local park facilities maps and adding them to Avenza Maps. I use the app to track my route while exploring these parks, because often the municipal or OSM datasets don’t include all the trails. I’ve encouraged my clients to use Avenza Maps, too. So far I’ve added a few cycling and tourism client maps to my vendor page, which provides a great value-add for end users.”

Kayak Shack map by Julie Witmer using MAPublisher

When asked about her favourite map that she has created, Julie finds it hard to answer that question with just one map!

“It’s hard to pick a favourite map – it’s usually the one I’m working on. I’ve had fun creating a map of a motorcycle tour across the southwest US, a book map showing the route and shipwreck of a Dutch merchant ship, maps of the Roman Empire, a large poster map of Micronesia, a tour map for a kayak rental business, and a series of maps for a documentary film about an Indigenous nation in British Columbia. And so many others! I love when my clients give me free rein to come up with a design. But on the other hand, if my clients have a clear picture in their head, it’s very rewarding to bring that picture to life.”

Julie was kind enough to share with us some of the map projects we can expect to see from her in the near future, and other tasks she’s engaged in to streamline her map design process.

“Last year I worked on dozens of maps for an atlas of American history (coming soon), as well as quite a few projects for books, cycling and tourism maps, and more. Right now I’m working on a map of the eastern seaboard Fall Line; a map of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve for their website and brochure; city maps for Sharon, Pennsylvania; and several book map projects – military histories, historical fiction, maps of the Mediterranean and England, and the US midwest.”

“I’m [also] currently learning how to add FME to my workflow to help streamline some parts of the map creation process, and would like to play more with terrain imagery in Natural Scene Designer.”

Julie Witmer sitting at a computer using MAPublisher

Finally, Julie finished off our interview by providing advice for anyone wishing to pursue a career in freelance cartography like her.

“If you want to start your own cartography business, I would first recommend starting it part-time as a side hustle and building a portfolio and learning about marketing and everything else that goes with running your own business. I did it the hard way and there were many times that I thought about getting a salaried job, but I love what I do and I definitely didn’t want to end up back in a cubicle! For many years it felt like I had to keep my foot on the gas, working insane hours, but it’s finally paying off. It’s still harder than working for someone else, in some respects, but the rewards are worth it. I love being able to provide my clients with custom maps that show what’s important to them. And my boss lets me take more than 2 weeks of vacation!”

Learn about more about Julie by visiting her website!

Formation en ligne inter-entreprise sur MAPublisher: 5-9 décembre 2022

Que vous soyez un professionnel des SIG ou que vous débutiez tout juste dans le domaine, cette formation vous propose de prendre en main MAPublisher® de manière approfondie! Rejoignez nos amis de Géom@tique du 5 au 9 décembre pour cette formation en ligne! Les inscriptions et plus d’informations sont disponibles sur leur site web.

Whether you’re new to GIS or an experienced user, this course will give you an in-depth introduction to MAPublisher® in French! Join our friends at Géom@tique from December 5th to 9th for this online training! Sign ups and more information are available on their website.

Formation en ligne inter-entreprise sur MAPublisher: 22-26 mai 2023

Que vous soyez un professionnel des SIG ou que vous débutiez tout juste dans le domaine, cette formation vous propose de prendre en main MAPublisher® de manière approfondie! Rejoignez nos amis de Géom@tique du 22 au 26 mai pour cette formation en ligne! Les inscriptions et plus d’informations sont disponibles sur leur site web.

Whether you’re new to GIS or an experienced user, this course will give you an in-depth introduction to MAPublisher® in French! Join our friends at Géom@tique from May 22nd to 26th for this online training! Sign ups and more information are available on their website.

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