That Time I Got Sent to Monaco

pretavoyager-fathom-katespade-monacoOver the weekend I had a bit of a surreal moment when Meg texted me to say she saw my photo from Monaco on the @katespadeny Instagram account. I knew it was happening at some point, but lost all track of time, and then my own Instagram started to explode a bit as the Fathom team took over the Kate Spade account, posting 6 of my images from my Monaco trip. It was funny to see my top picture get 15k likes – ha! hardly what my own account gets.

Let’s back up. It all started back in December when the gals at Fathom reached out to me to see if I’d be up for writing a Monaco guide. I’d never been but jokingly responded that I’d happily go if they wanted to send me. I never imagined in a million years that there would be a budget (it’s embarrassing how many requests I get from big brands to do free work), but this time there was. It was winter and I was aching to get out of Paris, so less than a week later I was on my way to Monaco for 4 days and 3 nights to do what I do best – explore for hours. I loved being there off season, and the city was so festive for Christmas (even though I barely needed to wear my trench coat). I actually was able to keep my expenses down in one of the most lavish places in the world (and took advantage of two Vayable tours to help get me oriented), but I’ll save all that for another post.

pretavoyager-city-guides-monaco-montecarloFathom has created a series of guides for Kate Spade as handy PDF downloads (Kate Spade is behind all of the graphic design of the guides). Each is divided into two neighborhoods with a map, but Monaco is only one square mile, so there is definitely a bit of overlap in neighborhoods. (Disclaimer: I am well aware that Cap d’Ail – the Cape of Garlic – is technically in France, and not in Monaco, but it’s literally over the border, and I think the Kate Spade girl would LOVE the Philippe Starck designed restaurant there). Overall, I’m really proud of the guide, and happy that it’s not one of the typical guides a tourism board expects to see.

pretavoyager-city-guides-monaco-cheatsheet-1Overall I wrote a Monaco cheat sheet, 2 neighborhood guides: Fontvieille + La Condamine and Monte Carlo, and an ideal itinerary to help you explore a bit more of the Côte d’Azur.

For any upcoming trips, I recommend checking out the full list of Fathom x Kate Spade guides. They’re all “anonymously” written – including mine – by the team of collaborators, but the Fathom girls are my kind of travelers. . . For the record, I’ll gladly accept other paying gigs of this kind!

Images: Fathom x Kate Spade Monaco guide

Follow me on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Designing Professional Documents on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!

After the Jump: Global Connections

afterthejump-2DS_ANNE-500x479Ever since Grace Bonney (aka Design*Sponge) started her radio program, After the Jump, I’ve been an avid listener. I may not get to listen live, but I definitely go through sessions where I listen to past episodes back to back. Thirty minutes is perfect amount of time to get a dose of inspiration and After the Jump is such a great name – it references when there’s a jump in a blog post, signalling more, deeper information and conversation. I know I’ve contributed to Design*Sponge for 6 great years and over 500 posts (this month I’m stepping down to make time for other projects), but it was still such an honor to be invited onto the show. This morning Grace and I cozied up in the Heritage Radio Network studio out of Roberta’s [pizza] in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I was kind of nervous, but the time flew by, and Grace totally knows what she’s doing. She and I chatted about my life in Paris, the importance of global connections and making and maintaining contacts. I talked about creating a job I can do from anywhere, teaching on Skillshare, giving Vayable tours, how I’ve made so many of my amazing friends (who are my best contacts), and how travel has influenced what I do now. As with anything, I came up with many more things to say after we were done, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. One thing I will add that I’ve learned this week is that if you have international clients or work on an international team make the effort to meet in person – it seriously makes a world of difference to have that human connection behind you. The story online and through email is only half the story.

ANNEQUOTE2You can listen to the full episode here, or download it on iTunes. Grace blogged about it too – read her post here.

pretavoyager-afterthejump1Grace in the booth!

pretavoyager-robertas2View to the booth inside Roberta’s (great pizza!). It’s a 2-way window but actually not distracting.

pretavoyager-robertasThe unsuspecting façade, pizza oven in the back. Welcome to Roberta’s!

In addition to my episode, I also really loved Grace’s recent shows with Julia Turshen (on business lessons) and the full Design*Sponge team –Amy and Max – talking about hard work. A new episode of The Lively Show with Grace just went live too. Even though I’ve known Grace for years, I learn something new every time I listen to her on a podcast. All are great listens while you get your work done!

Images with text courtesy of Design*Sponge.

The Color of [French] Design

pretavoyager-etsy-redLast week I was lucky to get to check out the Etsy Haut en Couleur spring preview put together by the Etsy France team to feature all French designers. Besides seeing some new work I was most excited to finally check out La Cartonnerie event space (keep on scrolling). I’d seen pictures online and it looked great. Little did I know until I got there, that I walk by it nearly every time I walk to the pool. Paris is always full of surprises. I didn’t have a ton of time, but it was fun to see the space and the way the different goods were laid out. I didn’t have any intention of sharing all the color collections, but everyone on Instagram reacted so well, I couldn’t help but share them all. It also made me happy to see people spotting their own products, and connecting with each other in the comments. I thought it’d be fun to put together a post with all the images in one place. Unfortunately, I don’t have a key to all the items featured, but if you can’t find them online, I’d suggest reaching out to @EtsyFR on Twitter. If you’re new to Etsy, it’s a great platform for discovering and supporting independent designers – happy exploring!

pretavoyager-etsy-whiteCollection: blanc; [Top image: rouge]

pretavoyager-etsy-greenCollection: vert


pretavoyager-etsy-orangeCollection: orange

pretavoyager-etsy-greyCollection: gris

pretavoyager-etsy-brownCollection: marron

pretavoyager-etsy-blueCollection: bleu

pretavoyager-etsy-blackCollection: noirpretavoyager-etsy-yellowCollection: jaune

pretavoyager-etsy-cartonnerieIn the space there were also a few featured artists working on their products during the event (in progress is always so fun to see), as well as workshops. The table above was set up to make tissue paper pompoms.

pretavoyager-etsyhautencouleurp.s. Speaking of French design, I’m happy to share a beautiful new sneak peek inside the Parisian home of French illustrator Noémie Cédille on Design*Sponge today! If only my apartment looked like that!

Follow my adventures on Instagram + Twitter! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Designing Professional Documents on Skillshare!

Making Boring Documents Beautiful (Skillshare)

Skillshare-resume-redesignI’m excited to announce the reason behind my recent blog silence – I’ve been busy working on my latest Skillshare class: Designing Professional Documents. I like to think of it as “making boring documents beautiful.” A well designed document can change how a client perceives you and make you stand out from the competition, not to mention, make it easier for the reader to digest the content.

All Skillshare classes are project driven and the assignment for this class is to redesign your résumé, a document everyone has. I was inspired by my friend Zoe who asked me to help her with her CV, when I realized it’d make more sense to teach her a few skills that she can apply to any document, rather than me making the changes for her. I share this example in class, along with many more. One of my favorite units is when I share documents – résumés, cover letters, proposals, invoices and more – from many of my favorite professional designers in the field. There is such a thing as “over-design” but these examples show the perfect balance between content and design. Then I walk through various concepts to help you redesign your own résumé with a style of your own.

Skillshare-resumeredesign-2I intentionally structured the class in a way so anyway can apply the skills regardless of what software you’re using. I review the concepts, followed by a lesson where I use InDesign to showcase the tools in action. For those that are interested in building skills in InDesign, this class is for beginner/intermediate level and will give you a lot of practice working with text.

As always, anyone can sign up for Skillshare classes any time, and once you’re in a class you have lifetime access. All lessons are pre-recorded online so you can watch them as many times as you want. Students are encouraged to share their work in the classroom and participate in class discussion boards. It’s a really wonderful experience. (Trust me, I’ve taken 30 classes now!)

I’ve created short links to make it easier to sign up (or share) all three of my classes:

If you have any questions about any of my classes, ask in the comments below!

P.S. Code BORING will get you $5 off Designing Professional Documents when you sign up through the referral links in this post!

Follow me as @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter!

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: (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.

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