I have fond memories of solving mazes when I was a kid. I really did. And I would guess the same thing goes for everyone in my age bracket. I grew up in a time when the internet was not even a thing. Watching TV meant flicking through a handful of channels, most of which offered programs for adults.
To survive boredom, kids had to be creative. And in between reading and playing outdoors, I’d find myself—pencil in hand—anchored to a couch solving mazes my dad would bring home from time to time.
These days, you barely see them anymore. But a few weeks back, I chanced upon Sean C. Jackson’s postcard design while at work. There it was, my childhood staring right back at me. But something felt different. This was not the same maze I grew up with.
The mazes I knew evolved into something more intricate. I mean, the details just blew me away. Before I knew it, my fingers were on a journey through a town I’ve never been to. I zig-zagged my way through every staircase, making my way from one fountain to the other.
I had to force myself to stop. For one thing, I was still on the clock and my boss would probably have given me an earful if she saw me slacking off (sorry, boss). I was having way too much fun!
But that’s when a question popped into my head. I asked myself: “Why would someone put a maze on a postcard?”
Who Is Sean C. Jackson?
I knew I had to learn more about this guy. So I did some digging (thank you, Google) and found out that Sean actually does this for a living. A man who creates mazes! His book, From Here to There: A Book of Mazes to Wander and Explore, is filled with similar creations.
I decided then and there to do a feature on Sean C. Jackson and his work. It was a no-brainer.
Quick-Fire Questions for Sean C. Jackson
Sean was kind enough to entertain my questions about him and his craft. I’d like to share with you part of our conversation.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you to creating mazes?
“I have been drawing mazes since I discovered the books of Larry Evans when I was very young. Throughout high school, art school, and my early career in television graphics, I would come back to creating them as a way to relax or pass the time.”
Can you walk us through your thought process as you map out your mazes? Where does it all start?
“Often I will have a theme or central structure in mind. Sometimes I focus on a certain style of building or landscape I want to explore. The maze creation is very organic and grows across the page like a doodle. I keep track of the paths as I draw and am careful to make the paths very clear.”
What issues do you usually struggle with when creating a maze and how do you get past them?
“I will not finish a maze that becomes a chore to complete. When I am no longer discovering as I create, I get bored. If I’m no longer interested in the work, I can’t expect my audience to be! When I complete a maze, the entire process was one of exploration and discovery.”
What makes a maze a good one in your opinion? Should it be about complexity, the visuals, or something else entirely?
“I like mazes that leave a spark of accomplishment when solving them. The paths and steps and bridges I typically use help to draw the viewer into the world. Gardens or statues are tiny rewards to discover along the path, but they also act as waypoints to help orient viewer in the puzzle.
It is important for the path to be clear and not confusing. Once engaged, the viewer should not become overwhelmed or overly frustrated.
The ideal maze is not a puzzle to solve, but a journey that can be revisited. I encourage readers to not mark the book with a pen, but to use a finger or something pointy so they can do the mazes again and again.”
Let’s talk about your book, “From Here to There.” How long did it take you to finish the project? How well was it received?
“The book took about a year to complete. I had to create dozens of new mazes and clean up much of my older work for printing. Chronicle, my publisher, helped get the artwork into shape.
The book has sold several thousand copies in the U.S. It is also selling well in Germany. The book has been published or licensed in 10 languages.”
Printing Postcards With NextDayFlyers
It was through this interview that I managed to get an answer to my original question: “Why would someone put a maze on a postcard?”
Of course, the answer seems too obvious now. Still, I wanted to hear from the man himself.
“I share the postcards with contacts and friends to pass along to folks who would be interested in the book,” Sean explains. “I have the postcards available at book signings to give to fans. I also use them [to] send personal notes to bookstores who carry the book.”
I’m absolutely happy that Sean decided to use NextDayFlyers to print his postcards. Otherwise, I would never have been reacquainted with a long lost pastime of mine. I’m also glad that Sean found the experience to his liking.
“NextDayFlyers was great!”, Sean shares. “I did little of my own research on card weight and size because I wanted the card to feel special, not a quick advertisement.
The 16 pt. cardstock was perfect. Since I’m familiar with Photoshop, it was easiest to upload my own artwork. The interface is very straightforward. The price was excellent and shipping on time. I am very happy with the finished result.”
On a personal note, he’s absolutely spot on about the 16 pt. cardstock. Choosing a thicker paper was, in my opinion, the right call.
Advice for Other Artists
I asked Sean if he had any advice for anyone who’d like to follow in his footsteps. He had this to say:
“Draw all the time! Work from life and observation. Try subject matter and mediums outside your comfort zone. Go to museums and galleries. Research artists you like. Don’t worry about every piece being perfect. Draw what you love.”
I couldn’t agree more.
“From Here to There” is designed for adults but are suited for children as well. I find that we rely on technology a bit too much to entertain ourselves. Sometimes, it’s nice to revisit a simpler time. As Sean puts it:
“Anyone who likes some low-key, non-electronic downtime will enjoy this book. It’s a nice break from studying for exams or when inside on a blustery day.”
You can learn more about Sean Jackson through his website, seancjackson.com. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Grab a copy of Sean’s book, “From Here to There: A Book of Mazes to Wander and Explore,” on Amazon.
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