blog/Alan McConchie

Why Data Gaps Are Often the Missing Link for Data Stories

Alan McConchie | 12.20.22

Researchers are quick to abandon data gaps or anomalies when creating data stories. Learn why digging into missing data helps you tell a more complete story.

#30DayMapChallenge 2022

Alan McConchie | 12.02.22

Every year in November, cartographers around the world take part in the 30 Day Map Challenge, spending their free time creating a new map each day, working through a list of different prompts posted by organizer Topi Tjukanov, and sharing their maps on social media at the #30DayMapChallenge hashtag.  This year, watching the stream of...

Make your own globe-spanning Jack-o’-lantern

Alan McConchie | 10.31.22

Look at this fun thing. You can carve a pumpkin on the globe! I can’t believe it. Isn’t it fun? It is. I am fun.Here are a few more. If you want to be fun too, try it at Also what is fun is that your carving is stored in the page URL.  If...

Shadows on maps are getting a lot more exciting, and here’s why

Alan McConchie | 09.16.22

As cartographers, we want to make beautiful maps that grab our readers’ attention. Sometimes we wish our maps could jump out of the screen or off the page, and with a recent trend in cartography we’re starting to see more and more maps that seem to do just that.  New technology combined with high-resolution elevation...

More ways to make your maps go Dark Mode

Alan McConchie | 09.16.22

The other day at Stamen we were talking about a recent post by esri’s John Nelson called “Create a Light or Dark Version of Any Map in Two Seconds” using ArcGIS Online Map Viewer. So of course we were wondering how we could do the same for Mapbox GL styles. We often have to design...

The Election Ring Map sneaks into Ken Field’s new “Thematic Mapping” textbook

Alan McConchie | 08.26.21

Last November, as part of Stamen’s 2020 roundup of presidential election maps (“We design maps for a living. Here’s who got the 2020 election right“) published in Fast Company, I sketched out the idea for a new kind of election map which I hadn’t seen implemented before. The map shows a colored ring for each...

Year Eight at Stamen

Alan McConchie | 07.19.21

In July 2015, after my first two years at Stamen, I wrote a blog post called “Year Two at Stamen”, and followed it up in December 2018 with another post “Year Five at Stamen”. Now that I’ve hit eight years at my dream job, it’s time to look back at what else has happened since...

Our Brilliant Friend: Stamen and OpenStreetMap through the years, part 2

Alan McConchie | 05.19.21

A personal history of OpenStreetMap, seen through the eyes of Stamen Design by Alan McConchie, Eric Rodenbeck, and the Stamen Design team Recap In part one of this series, we covered the early years of the friendship between Stamen Design and OpenStreetMap. Like Bert and Ernie, Romy and Michele, or Turner and Hooch, these two...

Stamen’s 12 Sunsets with the Getty Museum wins Webby Award!

Alan McConchie | 05.18.21

Stamen’s project 12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha’s Archive, which we built in collaboration with The Getty Museum, is the 2021 Webby Award winner in the category of Architecture, Art & Design! The Webby Awards have honored the best websites on the internet every year since the inaugural awards in 1996. This year’s awards ceremony was...

Stamen’s Watercolor map tiles are now in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection!

Alan McConchie | 05.18.21

Stamen’s Watercolor map Today the Cooper Hewitt (the Smithsonian Design Museum) officially added Stamen’s OpenStreetMap-based Watercolor map to its collection, the first live website to ever become part of the Smithsonian. Learn more from the Cooper Hewitt press release and the announcement event recorded on YouTube: We are especially grateful to the hundreds of thousands...