British illustrator shows deep connection to Taiwan in original ‘Taipei Map’

The photo collage shows Tom Parker (right) and his illustration "Taipei Map." (Courtesy of Tom Parker)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A hand-drawn map of Taipei has recently caused quite a stir on social media. The map is exceptionally detailed, including iconic landmarks, such as Taipei 101, various metro lines, the National Palace Museum, the Grand Hotel Taipei and even many residential buildings.

The stunning Taipei map was produced by British illustrator Tom Parker.

The China Post reached out to Parker, who shared his working process, inspiration, and the many ingenuities hidden in the map.  

Tom Parker worked as an illustrator in the UK, but later, he wanted a change of scenery and chose to come to Taiwan in 2014. He got married and became a Taiwan Resident in 2018.

The photo collage shows Tom Parker (left) and part of his sketch of the “Taipei Map.” (Courtesy of Tom Parker)

When it comes to creation, he said that he spent as much time looking at images and maps online as drawing the map.

Taipei Map by Tom Parker (Courtesy of Tim Parker)
Taipei Map by Tom Parker (Courtesy of Tim Parker)

“I spent many days on map views, aerial views, looking at streets and buildings, even birds!” Tom said. 

However, due to the map’s limited size, Tom has tried to bring everything as close to each other as possible.  

Although he couldn’t fit all the things in the map, he mostly created it to give a feel for Taipei’s layout and something fun to look at.

Sketch of the Taipei Map (Courtesy of Tom Parker)

Asked about any highlights he would like to point out, Tom Parker excitedly said, “Look for all the birds! And turtles. And cats, and squirrels, and a pair of pangolins.”

Every time you look at the map, you may find surprising details hidden in it. (Courtesy of Tom Parker)

The artist shared that someone once passed him a picture of a building in his hand-drawn map, pointing out that it was that person’s parents’ home in the mountains.

Later, Tom was surprised after visiting the place and finding out that it was the building on the map.  

Asked about how long it took to complete the map, Tom noted that he started working on the map a year ago, but he has been working on it between many other jobs since then. He is not sure how long it took.   

Tom noted that he started working on the map a year ago. (Courtesy of Tom Parker)

“The most difficult part is coloring and deciding what to include on the map,” he said, adding that “I couldn’t fit everything in so I chose what to represent.”   

To solve this problem, he made some places much smaller versions but still had to give an impression such as Treasure Hill or the Botanical Gardens.   

“I love living in Taipei. I live in Beitou now, which is just a bit calmer and quieter than the main city. But all of Taiwan feels safe and friendly. I love it here.”    

Tom Parker’s love for the land of Taiwan is fully expressed in this hand-drawn map.(Courtesy of Tom Parker)

Speaking of the inspiration to create the map, he said that he was asked to draw Beijing’s map for someone who had stayed there and wanted certain bars, shops, and places represented in the city as a gift.  

For Tom, who has drawn fantasy maps for books, this is not very difficult. After showing that, many suggested he should draw a “map of Taipei”, and this small seed has been planted in his heart ever since.   

“I thought it was a great idea, though hadn’t realized just HOW BIG it would become.”    

Asked about his plans, Tom said he wants to paint the whole of Taiwan, “though that might not be realistic in one lifetime!”    

If he had to pick one as his next project, he would choose Yilan because it’s his wife’s hometown and features a very different scenery from Taipei, with its coast, islands, and rice fields.  

Tom also revealed that his illustration would be on a large Pintoo jigsaw puzzle. Meanwhile, he is talking to distributors and publishers this week about printing it and making it available. 

Tom Parker | Facebook