The New York Times has an occasional magazine supplement about real estate called "Key". On September 9th, 2007, the magazine featured a cover illustration by computer artist and MIT professor John Maeda. The most fascinating part of this illustration is its visual design process documentation available on NYT, where Maeda's walks through the evolution of the piece. There we can get a better understanding of his thinking and creative process in action.
As Maeda explains: "I submitted 12 sketches of possible designs. The magazine's art staff selected No.3 (Google Mappish Mondrian). It was a fairly vague idea, but it really was the one I felt the closest to. (...) I realized that I'm on a plane so often that I think of the world as sort of a map of cities. I figured I could make a simple diagram that would draw out all these cities and plot them out. And then I could draw some fluid curves to connect into the center of the keyhole. The inspiration was the ever-present Google Maps".