Nancy Chandler Graphics Closed Down
Travelers into Bangkok have relied on the Pictorial maps made by Nancy Chandler Graphics, a family business that’s been a fixture of the Thai capital for nearly half a century. But even the historic business has closed down after 45 years in business, succumbing to the rise of Google Maps. The company’s last maps were printed in May.
Nima Chandler, company owner and daughter of company founder, Nancy Chandler, issued a tribute to her mother, recalling feedback from people sent over the years, with one saying that their maps helped share people’s love and memories for Thailand.
Nima, aged 51, joined the family business back in 1997, working with General Manager VarisaraBejrakashem and Graphic Designer RoengsakChankasem, each of which have been at the company for 22 years.
The company was founded by the American Nancy Chandler back in 1974, who Nima states came up with the idea after drawing a fold-out spread of the Grand Palace area in a copy of the American Women’s Club Magazine, which her mother drew after getting lost at SanamLuang.
The penultimate edition of the map, the 2018 iteration, were largely found and mapped by Roengsak, who spent years travelling around the capital and walking sois. Roengsak explains that he didn’t look for obvious highlights, looking for places that even locals didn’t know of, but should see.
The map marks restaurants and locations, with vegetarian eateries marked with Vs, while air-conditioned locations marked in blue. Alongside these locations, are directories that list the places on it, as well as specially curated tours.
Nima explains that the maps aren’t about generic ‘Top Ten’ list stuff, but places that make for a unique, and magical visit to the Thai capital.
Notably, Nancy Chandler is one of the first, if not the first, to transliterate Thai street names into English for Pictorial maps, as Bangkok in the 70s didn’t have English road signs. Roengsak himself digitized the maps, and even created the iconic Nancy Chandler typeface himself.
Over the years operating, the Nancy Chandler Graphics business has managed to stand strong against the increasing digitalization of tourism, not just from map apps, but also online Top 10 lists that are overly devoted to common tourist destinations.
However, operations became less and less profitable over the years, which is why Nima made the decision to close down the business at the end of May 2019, in spite of the company braking even and putting away enough money to provide severance for their six staff members.
Nima admits that people have contacted them to see if Nancy Chandler can continue with ads, but they opted not to do that, as that, ultimately, isn’t what Nancy would’ve wanted.