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J-Storm Urban Maps


 Today I am going to deviate from my normal travel focused blog and write about……yep… son.

“Oh no,” you say,  “Not one of those proud Mama deals?”

But before you hit the delete button, please know there is a slight connection to travel……and what he is doing is part of a bigger trend, that if I were still part of a large mid-market daily newspaper organization, I’d be pitching as a story.

Maybe they’ve already done it…. But I haven’t and here goes.

Justin is now living in San Francisco with his lovely bride-to-be and working at AutoDesk in a cubicle without a view.  While working full time, he  is creating maps made out of wood and constructed using high tech equipment.  Well, here’s the trend part.

  He’s part of what is called the Maker Movement. 

 He invented his maps and has been creating them at Techshop–another new thing in our techno world.

 He’s trying to raise funds through another new thing–Kickerstarter.  And I’ll share a little about that.

The Maps are great. They are obviously the connection to Travel.   What can I say, I’m his Mom.  They can hang in gray boring office cubicles like Justin’s, conference rooms and in many family settings.  Collect them for cities you’ve visited or the ones on your bucket list.  Maps are important to those of us who love to travel and are always dreaming of the next destination.


“I adapt slightly to enhance the graphic appeal,” Justin explains. “The main recognizable areas are tweaked a bit. What I am doing is taking a lot of complex data and bringing it to the world in a new and attractive way.”

He is part of the Maker Movement, defined by popular media as an international subculture of independent tinkerers, hackers and hobbyists.  They are able to sell their products through online sites like Etsy, avoiding the traditional retail channels.

They even have their own trade show called Maker Faire, conferences held around the world for these independent creative folks.  (

At this point Justin is making his products at Techshop, a new organization that is perfect for folks like Justin.  Built on a health club membership model, subscribers to Techshop have shared access to high-end industrial machines, tools and software. Sounds a little like “shop class” in high school.

J-Storm Urban Maps can only be ordered through Kickstarter but soon…… from retail outlets if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.   Kickstarter is a crowd funding website for creative projects. It is a rapidly growing funding platform that allows folks to pre-order a product.  If the project gets funded, then you get the product. It the project doesn’t get the full funding, you keep the money you pledged and don’t get the product.

But…….back to the proud Mom part.  I have always known Justin would get into something creative, innovative and  probably messy.   When he was a two and a half year old, he asked me how the furnace worked the first time he felt hot air coming out of a heat vent.  When he was ten,  he made and painted wooden stars for holiday decor. He sold hundreds to friends and family.



Between then and when he grew up and moved away, our basement and garage were filled with Justin’s projects.  His father and I rejoiced in his creative energy.

So….now….he’s moving into bigger projects.    Maps.  Check out his Kickerstarter page and entertaining video here and help him along if you’d like.


A  J-Storm Urban Map can be seen at Nara Sushi in San Francisco.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Jul 18, 2012 Reply

    What an innovative and talented son you have. I sure hope Justin gets the orders he needs for the funding, as I am looking forward to receiving my J-Storm Urban Map!

    • posted by
      Jul 18, 2012 Reply

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words and for supporting Justin’s efforts.  Yes, I agree.  I hope he gets the orders he needs to fulfill the goal of the Kickstarter campaign.   

  2. posted by
    Barbara Rohwer
    Jul 19, 2012 Reply

    Milt and I are anxiously awaiting our GR Downtown map!  What a creative son you have…

  3. posted by
    Sallie bowie
    Jul 20, 2012 Reply

    you should be a proud mom…This is exciting and so fun to create like this.  Wish him the best

  4. posted by
    Art Prize 2013 First Impressions | DesignDestinations
    Sep 22, 2013 Reply

    […] representational of his J-Storm Urban Maps. It’s really impressive.   Hope you get to see it and click here to learn more about his ventures.   It’s pretty exciting. And yes, please vote for him.   […]

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    Apr 23, 2014 Reply

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