How to create NYC Graphics

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

nyc subway map graphics
Me with my designs! My nosy dog, Bolt (Bottom Left) who wanted to be in the picture!

When my Sister and I had our business, Double Arrow Designs, one of our most favorite items were these dėcollaged bar stools. They were so unique, our color was, grey, black & white with an accent of red to pick up a color in the map. We used actual subway maps on the top, New York newspaper underneath, a sanded and stained grey frame (this is where I can say with experience that I do not like to sand! read about that here!)

Our stools took a moment to sell. Even though they were so unique, there needed to be a specific person to buy these. We decided that there had to be a bigger audience for these maps and came up with the idea to create beautiful Holiday ornaments using the same idea with the maps. This was a huge seller and we couldn't keep enough!

To give a little history on this beautiful graphic subway map, In the 1970's The firm Michael Hertz Associates, was hired by city transport officials to redesign the old map. At the time, crime was on the rise and subway ridership was at its lowest level since the late 1910s. Few tourists rode trains to see sights.

His team added streets, reshaped parks, distorted boroughs and re-formed and gave curves to the snaking train lines.

A native of New York's Brooklyn borough, Mr Hertz previously helped create transit maps for Houston and Washington DC before undertaking the New York project for the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

In an effort to remove some of the straight lines that were disliked by riders, Mr Hertz hired a Japanese designer who rode every subway line with his eyes closed so that he could better depict the curves in the railways.

The map that Mr Hertz produced in 1979 was tweaked by his firm several times, but the basic design remains.

Years later, I still love the idea of using the subway maps in my designs. As a true New Yorker, the subway system is part of my daily life. I love the intricacies of the designs created by all the different lines that move and intersect and overlap all over the city and boroughs.

The idea of taking portions of the map, either Brooklyn, or the Rockaways or Manhattan and making that the focal point of a simple graphic shape and adding verbage with the ply of the graphic letters of the subway lines really motivated me. Yes I get really excited about a new design Idea!

I decided that this graphic, with a slight modification could be applied in so many areas! Home goods, as a pillow, printed on mugs or even face masks, and of course on apparel! I loved the idea in this example to utilize this for kids Tee shirts.

How to create a kids NYC subway map graphic Tee

  1. My subway map graphics are available here on my Etsy store. (contact me @ if you want to personalize this, or use another element)

  2. The graphic needs to be flipped in order to heat seal it onto the garment

  3. Print on Heat seal paper, You can personalize this by adding a name, or a date or both!

  4. place graphic in exact spot and press on either using a heat press machine, or a really hot iron

  5. Peel the paper, and wow! you have your instant, unique cool graphic

  6. You can also use these on tote bags , or kids T-shirts for cool gifts

  7. Also Zazzle is a great site if you are looking to take this graphic and have it put onto a mug or a water bottle or other merchandise they offer.

spread love graphic nyc subway map tee
"Spread Love"

be a start nyc subway map graphic tee
"be a Star"

surfs up nyc graphic tote bag
"surfs up" tote bag

Below are the products that I used in making these above Items

Note:  My blog periodically contains affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase, I might make a small commission at no extra charge to you. Purchases made through them are greatly appreciated.

  1. cricut heat press machine

  2. heat transfer paper

  3. Tote bags

  4. Tee shirts

  5. Spread love graphic

  6. Be a star graphic

  7. Surfs up Graphic

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