Melinda Clarke had a surprising amount of people visiting their services page recently, as people took interest in her jigsaw, The Melbourne Map, a 1000-piece puzzle of a map of the city, a labor of love made by her and artist Lewis Brownlie.
According to her, she recently had a stockpile big enough to fill a 40-foot container sell out, which was supposed to be her entire stock for the rest of 2020. When asked about The Melbourne Map puzzle, she says that the demand just spiraled out of control, with their online channels and their services page overwhelmed by interested customers.
Ms. Clarke met Mr. Brownlie one day in Melbourne, sitting on a milk crate drawing the buildings in the city, in her words, and presented her idea for the puzzle map to him. The artist agreed, estimating a piece that would take 4-6 months.
The map that would become The Melbourne Map puzzle had details on Melbourne’s CBD, inner suburbs, waterways, and the like, with 8,000 hours of research, and two and a half years’ worth of sketching and coloring, with digital colorist Sean Rodwell handling the latter to ensure everything was properly shaded.
The map has since become popular to people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with orders coming in by the dozens. The original agreement for the distribution of the map was to have 100 copies, but after a local outlet did a spread on it, the number bumped up 20,000.
Ms. Clarke put the project on hold for a decade and a half for her abalone farm at Indented Head, before coming back to the project in 2015, after having to clean out a shed full of unneeded stuff. She then invested her savings and partly crowd-funded the 2019 iteration of The Melbourne Map, which had to be re-done from scratch due to the huge changes in the city, with Deborah Young Monk taking over the illustration work.
In order to ensure that the new map was good, the team turned to developers to ensure that they got finished versions of unfinished developments on their map.
The plan, originally, was to support Aussie manufacturers, but the closest puzzle maker they could get was in New Zealand, which they got to the day before the country locked down. With New Zealand set to re-open for business, more puzzles are to be released.