Heart of Utah: BYU mapmaker draws our connection to home and each other
FARMINGTON, Utah — A BYU student from Davis County is helping us find our place in the world with his hand-drawn maps. Isaac Dushku was named BYU’s student entrepreneur of the year and has truly earned the title, “Lord of Maps.”
He said he has always loved doodling and drawing, but about a year ago, he posted a picture online of a hand-drawn map of Utah with a fantasy twist.
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Not only did people like it, but they also wanted to buy it.
“Pretty much with almost no delay, like tons and tons of requests started coming in right,” said Dushku. “In order to, you know, fill all that demand. I draw maps almost every day, all day, almost every day.”
He then started the Lord of Maps business as a way to beef up his resume for business school at BYU all from his basement in Farmington while taking classes remotely. Often, the married new father is holding his new baby with one arm as he draws with the other.
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The business has been so successful it did end up bolstering his resume. He was named the 2021 Student Entrepreneur of the Year by the BYU Rollins Center.
— BYU Marriott School of Business (@BYUMarriott) April 16, 2021
“It’s a passion. It’s a hobby. It’s just kind of this weird thing that’s been thrown onto my lap that I never would have assumed that’s what I’d be doing,” he said.
Lord of Maps
Dushku is working his way through drawing all 50 states, and through the orders and online comments he sees just how much pride people have in where they live or where they are from.
“Utah has a population of around 3 million. And Illinois has a population of like, 10 bazillion or something. And the Utah map does significantly better. That could be because of mountains and stuff. But it also could be because we love our state,” he said. “Idaho does way better per capita than Pennsylvania. Nothing compares to the West — the people in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Utah just like love their states so much. Almost at a Texas level.”
He is also working on other countries, like New Zealand, England and Ireland. As he posts pictures of the process on Instagram, people weigh in with advice or help. For example, three men from Ireland helped him with the Gaelic spellings of all the cities. He was able to release that map in Gaelic and in English.
Other people ask him to add their tiny hometown or cool feature or place, and he will.
“It can get pretty niche,” he said.
Someone just left this comment on my Africa map. This stuff makes me so happy, especially with all the stuff going on. pic.twitter.com/qYWVBDHi3n
— Isaac Dushku (@Lord_ofMaps) December 24, 2020
Once Dushku catches up with demand he may try working on commission or taking requests. He thinks his maps are so popular because we love where we live, but we also want to learn about other places and see how we fit into the world.
“Obviously we’re going to resonate with something that’s home. But at the same time, we resonate or we’re interested in something that’s not home, that’s something completely different, especially now,” he said.
He said people for years have looked at maps, and now they zoom in on Google maps, finding random cities and wondering who lives there.
“For me, its always provided this kind of interesting little journey. You can have in your brain, inside your room just looking at, you know, either a physical piece of paper or a map on the screen. This is someone’s home. Somebody lives here and I know nothing about it so I’m just going to learn,” he said.
In a way, his black and white and red labeled drawings are connecting us to each other and grounding us at home. Exactly how we needed to feel over this past year.