Back in the early 80s, it was the tradition of Christopher Alan Smith’s family to board their car and leave their home located in northwest Austin for frequent road trips all over Texas. During these trips, Smith would be busy with maps. He recalled that those times there are no GPS and he used the maps in order to track the route where his father is going. He would see signs that they are almost to another town and he would use the map to provide a rough estimate of their location. He admitted that back then he was already a map geek.
What was known to be Smith’s passion when he was a child would later be his career in life. In 2006, he used to work as a graphic designer for a book publisher that is located in Austin when he also began making his own board with a Republic of Texas as theme during his free time. The project was stalled because of problems regarding marketing as well as packaging. It was then that Smith diverted his time on making a sketch of maps instead with the help of a pen and ink as well as acrylic paints. He started to make map illustrations regarding historic sites and facts. It was in 2008 that he was able to have his own exhibit at the Bayou City Art Festival in Houstonwhich is an art show with juries. He was able to sell around $5,500 worth of map illustrations. It was during that time that he realized that he could make maps as his full time work and he decided to do just that after he was laid off from his job within the same year.
Smith is now 45 years old and ever since that year, he has sold thousands of map illustrations with a Texas theme. The maps have various titles such as Texas Oil and Gas and Cattle Trails among many others. His work can cost a minimum of $800 and a number of his map illustrations are already hanging in the offices of the state legislators as well as known musicians.