Nina Kulick designs couture maps, illustrating clients’ favorite places with a whimsical flair and attention to detail. Each piece serves as a love letter to a particular place, which she carefully populates with vibrant wildlife, quaint landmarks and playful labels.
Technically speaking, Kulick’s line of work is cartography, or the craft of mapmaking. But this title doesn’t sit right with Kulick, who sees her role as much less scientific than the label may suggest. Her maps often put fantastical artistry before complete accuracy, with flowing lines and exaggerated details throughout her work.
Even with this playful approach, Kulick takes care when researching her chosen locales. Before she became a full-time artist in 2006, Kulick was a neuroscientist specializing in sleep. Needless to say, she is an experienced researcher, and she loves investigating her subjects in detail before beginning her cartography.
“I'll do a fully in depth analysis of the place – I'll read all about it, I'll look at websites, I'll study historical maps and all that,” Kulick said. “That way, when I draw it, it's a very authentic piece because it represents the place itself and not just what it looks like from the outside.”
Kulick changed her career path when she and her husband decided to start a family together. Rather than spend unusual hours in a basement sleep laboratory, the neuroscientist wanted to be at home with her future children. Fortunately, after she created a map for a friend’s wedding, Kulick began receiving commissions, giving her the perfect opportunity to create her own business.
“I did a lot of wedding invitations and save the dates, and that gradually morphed into me creating a company,” Kulick said. “After amassing almost 600 map designs from all over the world, I decided I would start making home goods and stationery.”
Through her Los Gatos store and online shop, Kulick sells her designs on tea towels, tote bags, cards, cutting boards and more. She loves trying new things with her work, and is always ready to try crafting any unique items her clients request. She also creates designs for other stores and boutiques to sell themselves – including The Quill’s very own exclusive Pacific Grove map design.
Kulick’s work can be found on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook at @Gooseberrydesigns, and online at https://gooseberrydesigns.com.