Fête du Graphisme {Paris}

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1491This year marked the inaugural year of Fête du Graphisme, a festival celebrating graphic design (graphisme = graphic design). It kicked off a couple weeks ago with Paris-themed posters by designers around the world appearing in place of advertising at bus stops around the city. There have been various events, projections and happenings around the city, and most notably a large temporary expo at Cité de la Mode et du Design along the Seine in the 13th (the large snake like building, which is also where Wanderlust happens and where the new digital/entertainment Musée Art Ludique is housed). It features 350 posters from designers on 45 countries and five continents, a “tour de France” of young French designers (a personal highlight in my opinion), 150 underground American “gig” posters, and more. The show is quick and fleeting – only on January 30 to February 2nd, but many of the posters are still on view near Champs-Élysees Clémenceau and Concorde through February 5th. I’ve long been inspired by the posters I see in the Paris metros – particularly for French cultural institutions – so it was such a treat to get a peek into who is behind many of these works, and some of my favorite products too. There is also a book commemorating the event (it’s 39€ but I’ve been pouring over all my new discoveries!). The expo is free and open to the public.

Don’t miss the Vine at the end of the post for a fun tour :)

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-9889“The station, where I said, I love you.” By French designer Alain Le Quernec.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-postersClockwise: Official poster for Fête du Graphisme, poster by Cyan (Germany), Louvre inspired print by Marta Granados (Colombia), and M/M (Paris).

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1299Jardins poster by Des Signes.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1301Poster by My Name is Wendy.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1318Posters by Brest, Brest, Brest.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1321Poster by Les Graphiquants.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1319Anyone who has been to Monoprix has seen the work of Cléo Charuet aka Cleoburo.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1327Nuit Blanche Metz poster by Frédéric Tacer.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1344Work of SA*M*AEL.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1354Posters by Dugudus.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1362Pierre Jeanneau caught my eye with his work for Théâtre du Belleville.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1364Posters by Studio B-C.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1383The work of Jean Jullien is always amusing. (Remember this expo I went to?) His instagram is also one of my favorites @jean_jullien.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1389Work of Leslie David.The souvenirs des Paris series was available at Colette.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1385Colorful designs of Atelier Muesli.


pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1390Work by Akatre.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1349pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1398Packaging design (2 images above) by Les Bons Faiseurs. They’re also behind many of the wine labels for Nicolas.

pretavoyager-fetedugraphisme-1431Colorful work of Brazilian illustrator Kiko Farkas.


Les Docks Cité de la Mode et du Design
34, quai d’Austerlitz
75013 Paris

Follow me on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS & InDesign on Skillshare!

The Creative Guide to Amsterdam

The-creative-guide-to-AmsterdamI’ve never officially met Naomi den Besten aka Pretty Unexpected, but she was one of the early students to sign up for my Skillshare map making class. For the hand drawn map exercise [below] she made a series of simple marker maps of Amsterdam to document how she and her boyfriend were going to spent their 5 year anniversary that she put on five different cards, which at the time she put in separate envelopes to reveal how they were going to spend their day. Together all the cards fit together to form a complete map. My students are awesome, right!?!
e8fb2ed2 Little did I know that she had another, bigger map cooked up. In late November I received an email from Naomi telling me she’d been hard at work since she took the class and wanted to send me a copy of her latest project, an illustrated map of Amsterdam with 36 of her favorite locations. Dubbed The Creative Guide to Amsterdam, she had the map professionally printed on waterproof paper and added small stickers so people can also add some of their own favorite places, which she sells in her online shop, and it’s completely delightful.

prettyunexpected-MapThe-mapOne of the most amazing things about Naomi’s project that you’d never know from looking at her work is that most of her graphic design “education” is mostly self-directed. She claims to still be figuring it out as she goes, and credits online classes helping to push her own limits. Naomi charted her progress – and frustrations – on her blog, which is refreshing. It’s so true that great work doesn’t just happen like magic, but so much goes into it behind the scenes. What I loved even more is that Naomi thought to share her work with me. It made my day to receive her email.

prettyunexpected-creativeamsterdammapDesign is in the details.

prettyunexpected-creativeamsterdam2Amsterdam is already one of my favorite cities, but I can’t wait to go back and try more of these places.

If you’re interested in signing up for my Skillshare map making class, sign up here: http://skl.sh/11RQ8Ig (code HIGHFIVE for a discount!). Like all Skillshare classes, you can sign up anytime and the course is self-paced. You can follow Naomi’s class project here. Her Pretty Unexpected blog is wonderful and inspiring, and of course don’t forget to pick up a copy of the map in her shop! (Such a steal at 4,95€).

All images courtesy of Naomi den Besten of Pretty Unexpected.

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pretavoyager-lafeveIn case you missed the decree, not once, but twice yesterday I was declared Queen for the year during our annual galette des rois (king’s cake) celebration for Epiphanie (Epiphany). Eating one cake is never enough, as it’s always more fun to taste test.

Once you have your cake, traditionally, the youngest person has to go under the table and point to shoes to decide who each slice will go to. As our youngest last night was a new arrival from the U.S. we had her turn her back to the table instead. That’s when the magic happened. She picked my name to receive the last slice for the first cake. Even the server didn’t know who received la fève (lucky charm, that literally translates as “bean”). Then I saw something white in my slice. I was a bit disappointed at first only seeing a white ceramic square and thinking perhaps a piece of the mixer had broken. Alas, after a bit of archaeological digging, I uncovered the cute slice of galette on the other side. Not only did I get la fève, but I also became la reine (the Queen).

So then we were ready to try the second cake – a nutella/speculoos variety. As I had been the last pick for the first cake, the youngest this time figured it’d be funny to give me the first slice this time, which was quite hilarious as the server and I immediately saw a bit of blue in my slice and started cracking up. What luck! I now became the Queen for the second time over.

Galette des rois is something that you’ll typically find in French boulangeries in late December and early January. In France, most boulangeries – or the frozen food store Picard, who tends to have the most adorable fève dolls – include a crown with each galette. So in addition to my two new fèves, I had two new crowns as well.

You can always make your own galette des rois as well – David Lebovitz shares the recipe on his blog, and Clothilde Dusoulier has one too (and gets into more of the history). And check out these awesome fèves that Le Petit Atelier de Paris designed for Poilaîne this year. Even if I wasn’t Queen, I’d still think this holiday – an excuse to eat cake – was great.

pretavoyager-fevesProof that I am Queen! These fèves are far more exciting than finding a bean in your cake!

French Lessons is an ongoing series where I teach you French words and cultural lessons while beefing up my Illustrator skills.

Follow me on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS & InDesign on Skillshare!

Musée des Arts Forains: Le Festival du Merveilleux

pretavoyager-museeartforain-7If you’ve ever watched Midnight in Paris you’ll understand Gil’s (Owen Wilson) fascination with Paris of the past. I didn’t realize that it was possible to still travel back to 19th century Paris until I took a recent trip to the Musée des Arts Forains in the Bercy area of the 12ème arrodissement. In fact, one of the party scenes was filmed here – you’ll recognized the cycle powered le manège de velocipedes below, as well as the swinging boats in the background. This “fun fair” is more like a ghost town most of the year, and only open for private tours, but for two weeks around the holidays they open their doors to the public. The entrance fee is 12€ for adults and 5€ for kids (cash only), which includes one ticket for an “amusement,” whether it be a ride on the carousel or a game of the waiter chase, with additional tickets for sale for French onion soup or a vin chaud. While the rides won’t be up and running during most of the year, I still highly recommend trying to get on one of the private tours if you can’t make it before January 5th. It probably will be easier to photograph then (it’s really low light if you can’t tell by the photos) without all the crowds. However, one of the joys visiting during their annual “Festival du Merveilleux” in the winter is seeing how excited and engaged all the kids – and adults are – without their typical iPad and video games. Great fun and I can’t wait to go back [in time]!

pretavoyager-museeartforain-23pretavoyager-museeartforain-1This ride dates back to 1897 and once the ticket taker has all the tickets he gives it a good push and then it’s human pedal powered from there. It’s kind of amazing how fast it goes! (Check out the Vine below).

This isn’t full speed. It goes faster!

pretavoyager-museeartforain-12I suspect this Venice boat swing is a bit old for current usage, but you can catch it in the background of Midnight in Paris. I didn’t mind thought – it’s still fun to see and think about how much rides have changed over the years.

pretavoyager-museeartforain-4Somehow being a show girl back in the day seems far more glamorous than now, non?

pretavoyager-museeartforain-6There are several “photo points” throughout the museum for a good laugh (or a new profile picture!).

pretavoyager-museeartforain-9Unfortunately none of the crowd the day I went was quite this put together.

pretavoyager-museeartforain-10This is one of those games where you toss the ball and try to get it in certain holes which moves your waiter (top right). It’s a “newer” game that dates back to the 1960s.

pretavoyager-museeartforain-11pretavoyager-museeartforain-17Only the tea cup in the center moves on the platform as it goes in circles, but “Rally Sportif” sure is cute!

pretavoyager-museeartforain-16I was in heaven with all the hand painted signage! However, this photographer looks a bit intimidating.

pretavoyager-museeartforain-18This is like a light show that comes alive and transforms.

pretavoyager-museeartforain-19pretavoyager-museeartforain-20The photo on the left is a unicorn game that asks you questions! (There are people working the games during the Festival).

pretavoyager-museeartforain-13pretavoyager-museeartforain-2pretavoyager-museeartforain-3The museum is housed in a few buildings. In the courtyard you can catch some fresh air, and enjoy a warm snack on a cold day.


For another look inside check out Meg of De Quelle Planète es-tu? (she went on a private tour) and Lauren of Folies du Bonheur‘s posts!

If you’re into movie locations, also check out Set in Paris movie tours that will take you past many movie locations in central Paris in the comforts of a luxury tour bus where you get to enjoy movie clips along the way. I went on in this weekend and it was fun to experience the city in a new way!

Le Festival du Merveilleux Dec 26 to Jan 5
Musée des Arts Forains
53 Avenue des Terroirs de France
75012 Paris

Follow my adventures on Instagram + Twitter!
I also teach MAPS & InDesign classes on Skillshare!

The Parisianer

pretavoyager-theparisianerI often feel like Paris tries to be New York (hello, Brooklyn!) and New York like Paris, leaving me asking, can’t we just be happy where we are? The Parisianer is one of those cases though where Paris trying to be New York – The New Yorker to be specific – works. 100 illustrators were invited to share their version of Paris, inspired in part by New Yorker covers. The result is 100 different styles, levels of humor and insights into the Parisian mentality and what this city has to offer. The project initially started out as a Kiss Kiss Bank Bank crowd funding campaign by the internet illusive La Lettre P association. Not only did the campaign succeed, but The New Yorker picked up the gallery story yesterday. The works are being exhibited for the first time this weekend at la Galerie de la Cité International des Arts in the Marais (18 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville). All of the books sold out at Thursday’s opening, but posters, large scale calendars, and the actual prints (that haven’t been sold yet) are available as well.  They’ll be officially releasing the book in March at bookstores (in France to start, I imagine), which is co-edited by Michel Lagarde, who has one of my favorite galleries/publishing houses celebrating illustration. I went to the opening on Thursday and loved the energy in the room, and such a great way to discover new illustrators. The expo is on all weekend, complete with live music in the evenings. Double check the official website for opening hours. You may even find the perfect holiday gift there!

{Official promo video}

pretavoyager-theparisianer2It was hard to choose a favorite, but Lou Rihn’s “Congestion” pretty much feels like my life here – walk, swim, metro. That swimmer crossing the lane happens all the time! Some of my other favorites are in the Vine below!

The artistic direction for The Parisianer is thanks to Aurélie Pollet and Michael Prigent, and the rest of the La Lettre P collective. Their first endeavor together was POING.

 Find me on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS & InDesign classes on Skillshare!


WORDS OF WISDOM (life advice for my students)

pretavoyager-beausoleilThe last couple months on my blog have been a bit of a radio silence as I’ve been pursing many great adventures, one of which included teaching a class I created called the Designer/Entrepreneur at Parsons Paris. A lot of the class was inspired by what Lauren and I have been working on for Studio/Practice – a curated library of tips + tools for creative business, the #thingsiwishilearnedinschool – which I hope will launch in the new year. The past 15 weeks of classes now feel like a whirlwind. Teaching is one of the more challenging things I’ve done (in a good way), and I’ve gained a new appreciation for all my past teachers. It really is something that everyone should try at some point. I’m looking forward to seeing my students present their final projects this afternoon, but for now I wanted to impart them with a few life lessons that I thought I’d share with you as well. One day I’ll work this into something more polished, but for now I think it’s something important to share.

  • The process is just as important – if not more important – than the final result. Ups and downs are natural and a sign you’re probably on the right track. If you nail what you’re working on after the first attempt you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.
  • Design is in the details.
  • The most rewarding projects will always feel like a work in progress and there are always things you want to improve, change and try.
  • Imperfection is more interesting that perfection. Don’t sugar coat things just because you think that’s what people want to see.
  • Failure is a really valuable learning process. Be honest about it and you’ll go further.
  • Learn from each project you work on and use those skills and experiences to help your future work.
  • Communication is key. Fundamentally it’s easy, but rarely is properly executed. If you can learn to be a good communicator early, you will go far.
  • You need feedback to raise the quality of your work. It may be a brilliant idea and beautifully executed, but you also need to test the market or target audience. Sometimes the timing just won’t be in your favor.
  • Grow from criticism, don’t see it as a bad thing. Be an active listener. In your own criticism, be constructive.
  • Always proof read and spell check.
  • Have a fresh set of eyes look over your work. (I find parents are a good start, and it’s a nice way to keep them abreast of what you’re working on).
  • When you think you’re “done” you’re rarely ever actually done. Just accept it, and realize every job will take longer than you think.
  • Revisit your “archives” of ideas.
  • Keep a notebook. Scribble in it. Write down ideas and things to look up later. Don’t edit yourself. Ideally keep it by your bed at night. Those brilliant ideas don’t always stick if you don’t write them down.
  • If you don’t know how to do something, learn it. For starters use the Google search bar. (I know it sounds obvious, but people can be lazy).
  • The best inspiration likely won’t come to you while sitting in front of your computer. For me it happens in the swimming pool, making connections in the metro (the literal act often translates to connections in my head as well), or walking down a street (at a different time of day, on the other side of the street, or looking a different direction to help see it in a new way).
  • Working with an editor for the first time can be a jolting experience. Their job is to help make your work stronger. Most of the time this is the case, but sometimes it is not. If you want to get paid, you’re going to have to learn to bite your tongue sometimes.
  • Don’t work for free, especially if it’s a for-profit business.
  • Give back – volunteering is a great way to attend conferences and events beyond your budget; pro-bono work for non-profits can help you build your portfolio, while also helping an organization that needs it.
  • Find a balance between “passion projects” and projects that pay the bills. Don’t be afraid to say no to work if it’s not a good fit.
  • The kind of work you do is the kind of work you’ll get known for.
  • Paying rent is also important, so at times you will have to take jobs you don’t love in order to help pay the bills, and there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Be smart with your money. Value it. Gain an understanding of accounting. Hire an accountant.
  • There is a time vs. sanity trade off.
  • Ask friends in the same position for advice, but always consult a profession when dealing with legal and financial matters.
  • You often don’t hear the full story on social media. There tends to be more hustle behind the scenes than you realize.
  • Create a “side project” to help get you where you want to be.
  • “Rush jobs” are never that rush and almost always get pushed back.
  • Part of your job is also to help educate the client about your process and what is expected from them throughout a job.
  • Take the time to create a contract up front. It will save you time in the long run, and make you look more professional to your client. (Even if they’re pressuring you, don’t start work until the contract is signed).
  • Contracts are designed to protect both parties. If you ever receive one that is completely in the other party’s favor, it’s probably a red flag you don’t want to work with them. However, that being said, you totally have the right to negotiate.
  • Use proposals and contracts to help manage your expectations.
  • Document your progress. This is a great tool for sharing your story. Photos, sketches, outtakes, Twitter timelines, etc.
  • Fill your down time with inspiration. I love watching Creative Mornings talks, listening to After the Jump, Design Matters, and Happy Monday Podcast, and reading The Great Discontent and Kern and Burn.
  • Read books. Geek out about the subjects that interest you and learn as much as possible as you can. Become an expert.
  • Travel. Seeing things and experiencing them in person is very different than reading about something online or in a book or magazine.
  • Take your research beyond what you find on the internet.
  • Make a point to disconnect sometimes. The world existed once before technology existed and everyone seemed to turn out OK.
  • Be a sponge. Absorb the world around you, but then use it to clean up ideas in your own creative ways.
  • Pull from your own story and life experiences to create something that is both meaningful, but also unique to you. (It will be much harder for someone to successfully copy your idea this way too, when YOU are central to its success).
  • Just because everyone is doing something a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way too.
  • Go to events alone. See the exhibits and shows you want to see. Don’t not do something because others aren’t into it.
  • Talk to people. Don’t network, make friends.
  • Follow submission guidelines. (Sadly not as obvious as it seems). If someone requests a particular image size, way of labeling the images, or a .zip, do what they ask. This is a super easy way to make “friends.” (I can’t tell you how many people send me massive files and waste my time because I ended up having to make sense of them).
  • Keep a spreadsheet of contacts, websites, interesting people/places. (I know mom, I should have listened to you years ago!).
  • The internet is amazing tool when used properly. Most people don’t take the extra step to make it work for them.
  • It feels really awesome to have important people contact you + and jobs come your way because they respect what you do. A blog or online project can serve as a business card. Think show, don’t tell.
  • Email can be a great way to build relationships and contacts. Be friendly, but professional, show a bit of personality, and respond in a timely manner. Think short + sweet and write an email you’d like to receive. (Sounds simpler than it is! I see it used inefficiently on a daily basis.)
  • Respect the time of others. Be patient. Plan ahead.
  • If you want to make things happen you’re going to have to follow up and be persistent (not annoying). It’s ok to check in to be sure someone received what you sent them.
  • Twitter is awesome. I have it to thank for some of my closest friends these days. It may take a couple weeks to get a true grasp of, but it’s an incredible asset when used right. First, it helps disrupt traditional levels of hierarchy, making “important” people more accessible, but it’s also one of those places where you can “interrupt” a conversation and it’s completely socially acceptable. Unlike Facebook, there is no mutual follow, so you can follow the accounts that inspire you most. Following is one level, but engaging and responding and having actual conversations with people is what makes it far more interesting.
  • Building your social media presence – even if it’s just to gain an understanding of how it works – before you have your own business will save you a ton of time, energy and outreach efforts later.
  • You won’t understand social media platforms thoroughly unless you actually use them. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Consider business models. Try to figure out how companies/projects/individuals are actually paying the bills. If you’re creating something yourself, consider how you’re going to pay the talent or users.
  • Stay up to date with new product releases – being an early adopter or using the platforms creatively can help you get noticed. (It’s quite fun having ins with CEOs of companies you really respect).
  • Share and promote other people and not just your own work. Think of it as an ecosystem where everyone wins. At some point you will need help from others, so think beyond your own success and help celebrate others.
  • Karma exists. Always stay professional even in those really awful situations where you want to scream or cry.
  • You never know what curveballs life may through you. When the less than ideal moments happen, think constructively and use them to your advantage.
  • Stay flexible for awesome last minute opportunities. (The photo is from a last minute business trip to Monaco for an awesome client – one week notice. )
  • Never make assumptions. Be as clear as possible, which often means stating the obvious.
  • There are tools and resources all around you, but it’s up to you to actually use them and do something with you.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. Especially as a student, more doors are open to you than you realize. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Be present. Take advantage of having face time in a world where technology dominates. Challenge yourself to hide your phone at meals or while spending quality time with friends and family.
  • Think about yourself as an audience member and the impression you are giving the speaker. Do you look bored? Are you looking at your split ends? Are you checking your phone? (FYI, teachers – like bosses – are not idiots and they see you every time you are “secretly” checking your phone).
  • Take your health seriously. It’s going to be far more stress when you’re too sick to work and the medical bills add up. Know your limits.
  • Never stop learning. You’re in the right field if you constantly want to keep wanting to know more. (Here + here + here are few places to start).
  • Ask questions. It doesn’t mean that you don’t know something, questions mean you’re inquisitive (a good quality).
  • Hard work pays off. But it doesn’t happen over night. It may take years, but keep your focus and good things will come.
  • Thank you is under used. Say it often.
  • Stay in touch! I always love seeing where we start and where we go…

Any life lessons to add?

P.S. Recently I reflected on my own path on Jennifer Snyder’s blog (she was one of my original Skillshare Map class students!) and thought about travel, blogging and design for Joe Lukawski’s Signs of Seeing.

FRENCH LESSON: Beaujolais Nouveau

pretavoyager-frenchlesson-beaujolaisnouveauHAPPY BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU! It’s the “Hallmark holiday” of France, where the young wine known as beaujolais nouveau is celebrated. Many of my French friends scoff at the “holiday,” much preferring more mature wines, but I think it’s the perfect excuse to have a glass with friends. Today’s French lesson was meant to be a pairing of le vin [wine] and le vent [wind, which we've had far too much of lately] – two words I struggle with defining their pronunciation – but alas, it turns out that wind is quite difficult to illustrate. Instead, I invite you to raise un verre du vin rouge [a glass of red wine] and say santé [cheers] tonight!

French Lessons is an ongoing series where I teach you French words and cultural lessons while beefing up my Illustrator skills.

Find me on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS & InDesign on Skillshare!

Creative Layovers: 9 Hours in Dublin

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-15xLast spring when I was booking my tickets back to the states I found the best deal on Aer Lingus (did you know all Irish planes are named after saints!?!). At the time I had never been to Dublin before and so the 9 hour layover on the return flight seemed like the perfect excuse to see Dublin and catch up with my friend Emily who runs the blog From China Village – named after her hometown in Maine – which is a fantastic resource for any visit to Dublin, especially if you enjoy a twist of DIY. This whole leg of my trip was particularly amusing because I had just come from a 9 train ride from Pittsburgh to New York where I caught my 7 hour flight to Ireland. I was only slightly jetlagged and in need of a shower, but it was an adventure and we got really lucky with a beautiful day! Emily also happens to be a Vayable Guide (what I do in Paris) and has two offerings – Dublin Like a Local and Made in Dublin – so she gave me a special blend of the two.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-3First off, when you’re jetlagged, it’s really nice to have someone show you around so you don’t have to think too hard. I first met Emily through twitter, then featured her on Boarding Pass, and actually met her in Berlin during The Hive conference. Despite having only met her once before in person, whenever we’re together it feels like I’m hanging out with an old friend. (Funny, when I’m giving my own Vayable tours, it never really feels like I’m with strangers). My pace of life typically is non stop so there’s not a ton of time for research, so it was such a treat to have someone like Emily (below) to show me the ropes – and make me want to come back for a longer visit!

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-5The other awesome thing is having an insider who can show you the places you’d never think to visit – like the roof of this museum for a great view of the grounds below.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-6I’ve always been a street wanderer. You never know what you may come across.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-11Our visit actually started with a trip to The Design Tower, which is full of artist studios. Emily had called ahead to arrange a special visit with a couple artists. This is definitely something I wouldn’t have done myself had I not been with a local. By the time we left the space I was totally fascinated by the process of soldering.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-13We got to chat with Aisling Nelson of Ringnoli. She makes lovely hair pieces – often for brides.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-12We also visited the Alan Ardiff studio that makes moving jewelry (that’s one of his prints left), and the jewelry designer Breda Haugh. I was fascinated by the low-tech nature of her workspace (right).

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-14Along the way we stopped at the beautiful new design-forward hotel, The Marker. We didn’t get to see a room, but I can tell you the bathroom was gorgeous! I was really intrigued by the geometry of the interior.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-8Now I know this is going to sound weird, but the yogurt salad lunch was a total highlight of our day. The other perk of seeing the city with someone who lives there is they know the good deals and special happenings in town. This actually was Glenisk – Irish brand of organic yogurt – Upfront & Personal pop-up shop. Emily had received a couple free coupons in the mail so we decided to check out their “yogurt salads.” Emily and I still talk about it to this day.  We both had the smoked salmon with lemon juice, olive oil and capers on greek yogurt as our savory option, and berries, honey and granola for dessert. SO amazing! You can find the recipes on the Glenisk website.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-9Another highlight for me was the Irish Design Shop. First it was fun because Emily knows the owners. Second, I love that everything they sell is made in Ireland. (It reminded me a bit of L’Illustre Boutique in Paris). They’d just opened their second location so we got to scope them both out. Definitely great for a more meaningful souvenir.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-10We covered the city by foot which also meant that we got to see great details along the way.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-17And enjoyed a little bit of nature in Stephens Green to get from A to B.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-4There’s totally a completely other side of Dublin I need to come back and explore (for more than 9 hours).

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-2I also enjoy having someone help me learn the ropes of local public transportation.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-1We ran out of time to fit in a proper beer, but Emily made sure I got to the airport in plenty of time, where I chugged my first Guinness before boarding my flight back to Paris. A giant success, I do say!

For more Dublin tips, visit Emily’s blog, or better yet, book one of her Vayable tours!

One of the perks of being a Vayable Ambassador is that I get to go on other tours!
Vayable is open to anyone who wants to create their own listing, so why not create an offering in your own city?

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The Homeless Bird

pretavoyager-homeless1Today on my way to lunch I exited metro Bourse. The homeless man who is usually there was there as normal, but this time something new caught my eye. In the past I had noticed that he had created ash trays out of old soda cans (something I had seen done before), but today I noticed something new: animals created out of styrofoam. These were clearly made by hand, and these animals had personality. Particularly the bird who had a gold chain and metal hair. During lunch I mumbled to my friend Jenni “I think I may buy a styrofoam animal from the homeless guy at the metro on my way home.” She laughed, but when I get an idea in my head, I usually make it happen. And when I do it within the hour, I’m serious.

pretavoyager-homelessbird-bourse2I think noticed the animals when I first existed the metro when I saw the homeless man with a big square of thick styrofoam. I initially assumed he was using it as a seat, but then made the visual connection to the small animals and bird on its side. The display was far from glamorous, and wasn’t front and center (nothing like these dinosaurs that made my day yesterday), but seeing him with the foam square made me make the connection. Later I noticed the small remnants of styrofoam around him.

Thankfully it was the same metro I take home so it was a no-brainer. I know I’m guilty of walking by homeless people without giving them a second thought, nor attracting unwanted attention (or guilt). But today I stopped. I told him in French I liked the animals. At the time I hadn’t even realized he was working on one, because I figured I’d give him a few Euros and our interaction would be done. Instead I got an insider look at his process. While myself and many of my creative colleagues turn to the internet for inspiration he had a pile of hard cover colorful childrens’ books, mainly the Disney variety. He flipped through them and showed me what he found interesting. We chatted in French, but I couldn’t always understand him (or not sure that he was always making sense), but I think my enthusiasm and interest and genuine smile on my face made up for any miscommunication. Then he showed me the end pages with animals, pointing out the skunk that he was currently working on. I’ve always loved watching artists work, and it was kind of amazing in his ability to translate a 2D drawing into 3D, while adding his own style to it. He tried to convince me that it was nice as is, but I assured him that I liked how he added marker detailing to the animals.
pretavoyager-homeless2I still don’t know his full story, and have opted not to post his full picture on the blog. (I always feel weird posting pictures of strangers without their permission). I hadn’t noticed in person, but in the photos I saw that he had medals pinned to his jacket. It made me wonder if he was a veteran. I admit I got distracted by the bird which I was holding the entire time we talked. I realized after I left I didn’t ask him a price, but just paid him – probably not enough for the joy that happened afterwards, but I also know that I’ll be back and bring him a sandwich, or two. (I’m also happy to make a detour on my Vayable tours for anyone interested to support a local artist!)

pretavoyager-homelessbirdThe next thing that happened was also something I didn’t expect. I was still smiling from the bird, and knowing that I was able to contribute to someone less fortunate than I, but when I descended down into the metro at Bourse (which ironically translates to “stock exchange”) I didn’t expect everyone else would treat me differently because of my bird. The French are a much more private culture than Americans, and you tend not to talk, smile, or interact with strangers in Paris like you would in the U.S. (3 hours after arriving in the states and I have more interactions with strangers than I do in a month in Paris). But when you’re holding an awesome bird made by a homeless man, people start to notice. The thing is, when I was holding it and the way I was holding it – like a proud mama – no one realized who the actual artist was. Before the train arrived I would tell the people who smiled as they looked at me that it was by the homeless man at the top of the stairs by the exit of the metro. Then I got on the metro, and a few more people started to interact with me (this NEVER happens). The sweetest was a grey-haired woman, who smiled at me and the bird several times and she heard me recount the tale a few times. As the new unofficial PR agent for the homeless man, I was happy to credit the maker (realizing that my vocab in French to described whittling birds out of styrofoam by a homeless man was a bit lacking). I also think that people – and it was a diverse group intrigued by my bird – didn’t really understand what I was saying because it’s not every day you see a bird like this coming from a man on the streets. I never would have guessed had I not seen it myself.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi in what this homeless man outside of the Bourse metro that embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that the world needs. He’s not only being resourceful with the simplest of materials, but he’s developed a style that is nothing like I’ve seen before. (There is too much “copy & paste” these days, and where I think long term financial stability falls short). Clearly this simple bird got me excited enough to blog a couple hours later, during  a time when I’m lucky if I get one post up a week these days. Sometimes I think we try way too hard when the secret to happiness and success is right in front of us! It all kind of reminds me of Caine’s Arcade, where a 9-year old with a bit of cardboard and a lot of imagination helped inspire kids of all ages.

To visit the talented styrofoam animal artist, look for him at the rue Notre-Dame des Victoires exit of the Bourse metro. Don’t just buy something from him, let him show you what he’s working on.

Worth the Wait: JR Inside Out

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-1Something I’ve become very good at in France is waiting in line, and this weekend set a new record. I’ve learned to set my expectations low, but rarely are they low enough going into the situation. The Centre des Impôts [tax office] is one of the few exceptions in efficiency, but I attribute that do the fact that it’s because they’re actually taking your money, and lots of it. What Paris has to offer is lots of great stuff that is free though, and with the help of social media word spreads faster than ever.

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-13pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-9pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-10pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-12Last Thursday I tried to stop by the Palais de Tokyo (one of my favorite museums in Paris, and it’s open until midnight) to participate in the first day of JR’s #insideoutproject in Paris. I’d seen the announcement on Instagram, and made the note to get there early. It was a bit after 1pm when I got there, but the line – which reached around the fountain area, which tends to serve more as a local skate park – was already closed for the day knowing they could only see so many people through the photobooth truck. Instead I was happy to run into a friend and take pictures of the truck and project. I asked a girl how long she had waited, and she said they arrived 30 minutes before it opened and they waited 2.5 hours. I decided if I was going to do this, the wait would be more fun with friends.

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-6[left: line in front of us with photo truck clearly visible vs. line behind us, both trying to grab as much sun as possible to stay warm]

So you can imagine my surprise yesterday when my friends and I arrived an entire hour before the truck “opened” at 1pm to get in line. We started about 50 meters back so we were full of hope, especially as the line got longer and longer the more we waited. However, we never imagined that it wouldn’t be until almost 5.5 hours later that we would have our photos taken. (I beat my record of 4.5 hours waiting at the Préfecture, however, friends lately have clocked in at 5 hours and 5h45min for their recent status changes). While it looks like a beautiful day it was blustery and COLD (probably the coldest day we’ve had so far). Thankfully we decided to take a few shifts inside the MK2 movie theater, however, after about 3 hours our friend Lali had to call it and headed home. Ironically when she texted us much later, around 5:30pm, that’s when we had just gotten our pictures! Just as I’ve bonded with my line mates at the Préfecture, we definitely were friends with those around us in line by the end.

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-14I got to hang out with my friends Sophie and Christian. They’re actually the team that shot my David Lebovitz video a few years ago

There were a few saving graces during this epic wait. First, I was with friends and got to speak French all day (which doesn’t happen enough when I work as at home as freelancer). Second, there was sun, and it was not raining. Third, JR was there himself so it was awesome, and he was really generous taking pictures with everyone. I had a super short conversation with him, and long enough to say thanks by giving him a Tattly photography set. Sophie and I were also able to keep ourselves entertained for awhile after spotting Mathieu Kassovitz – a friend of JR and big supporter of his projects – who I adored as Nino in Amélie (which is fun, having heard the film’s director Jean-Pierre Jeunet speak this week too).

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-3pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-4pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-2We also lucked out because JR was manning the photo booth when we got up there. We had been moving millimeters a minute all day (apparently there were some printer issues, slowing the process more than usual, but lucky for us it started working just in time). All I have to say was, JR was efficient! He was able to fit in a fan shot while we each took our picture in the photobooth housed in the side of the truck. Of course the irony was that we moved so slow all day and this happened so fast we all felt caught off guard (and wind blown) in our pictures. But we made it – barely, and just after the sun set. You can view all the portraits on the official Inside Out website.

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-5pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-8Inside Out is JR’s collaborative community project that is happening around the world that came about after his TED prize. I’ve seen it when he took over Times Square, as well as posting portraits along the canal in Pantin, just outside of Paris. There are currently at least two photo trucks in the U.S., and the truck will be at the BNF [Bibliothéque Nationale de France] today and tomorrow (even if you want to go see it and not wait in line). The best way to find out what/where the latest project is to sign up for JR’s newsletters, and follow @JR and @insideoutproject on Instagram, and @JRart on Twitter, as well as follow #insideoutproject. JR truly is a master storyteller, and his Instagram is one of my favorites because of that. Next up: Tuesday his latest film “Inside Out” premieres at the MK2 Bilbiothèque (in the US, look for the HBO special). Check out the trailer below:

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-16pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-17pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-7Also at the BNF [Bibliothèque Nationale de France] is a large-scale JR installation. I arrived via Parc Bercy and crossed the Seine over to the library towers. They still have a few more panels to add but it’s close!

pretavoyager-JRinsideoutparis-15You know you’ve spotted JR if he’s wearing sunglasses (with small printed eyes where any brand name would go), and this black hat.

So while we may have been miserable and cold all day, we made it and only have good memories of the day. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you have a chance, I highly recommend seeing this project in action in a city near you! Better yet, wait in line and become part of the project.

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