The artist and the tale behind our Maps and Legends cover

Artist John S. Dykes helped us celebrate Santa Clara University's Best in the West designation from U.S. News & World Reports by illustrating some other bests and firsts of California and the Bay Area.

Our topic for today is Maps and Legends, a theme we had in the works for some time as we shaped the Fall 2018 edition of this magazine. We knew we wanted a map on the cover, with more maps to come inside: tracing journeys and geographies. Then came the news that the good folks at U.S. News had figured out what we’ve known for some time: Santa Clara is tops!

In its designation, SCU is best in the West when it comes to regional universities. In that moment, we knew we had our map: our campus front and center, surrounded by a delightful menagerie of California superlatives. First! Best! Most! Highest mountain and tallest tree, crookedest street and happiest place on Earth! Unsung western hero of heavier-than-air flight, John J. Montgomery, and site of the first show by the Grateful Dead!

Illustrator John S. Dykes is the one who took the rough idea and gave it shape and form and breathed life into it. Behold, this whimsical two-part map bustling hidden goodies and surprising nonpareils: biggest foot and foggymost lighthouse—who knew?

What we do know: We have here in California stuff that can inspire and astound. That, and it’s important to eat your veggies and fruits, so help yourself to some Brussels sprouts and avocados and strawberries. It’s also OK to partake of a Popsicle or a martini, for they both were born here, so long as you enjoy responsibly.

—Steven Boyd Saum, Editor