My Life in Maps

In honor of my Skillshare Map Making class that starts tomorrow I thought I’d take today to put together a special post. I’ve been overjoyed by the outpouring of support around the internet, and at time of writing this post I already had more than 350 students – bloggers, photographers, illustrators, designers, community managers, magazine contributors, and genuinely awesome people – from 21 countries, on all 5 continents! While class doesn’t officially start until Tuesday, the energy in the online classroom is contagious, and it’s been amazing learning about my students + the fantastic maps they have planned. Also, as a final reminder, I know what it’s like to juggle a lot of things in life, so I kept busy/real lives in mind when designing the class. The lectures are broken up into small segments that you can watch when you have time, and the even when the class is over you’ll still have access. (It took Ashley + I two months to finish our video for another Skillshare class we took!).

I was lucky to grow up in a well traveled family, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved maps. Our house was littered with old issues of National Geographic, and each issue always came with a map, and smaller maps were always used to tell the story of the place. In 8th grade, my World Geography teacher gave us a test once where we had to draw the world from memory. There was a giant map in the front of the class for reference, but going up to look at it took away time from us and our piece of blank paper (we had to include details of many kinds: 1 isthmus, 1 mountain, 1 capital, etc.). It was intense, but also the best – and most memorable – test I ever took. Then for extra credit when days we finished ahead of schedule he’d toss around an inflatable globe that we’d toss around until someone had it and our teacher would name a super unknown place and we’d have 2 minutes to find it. Needless to say, I’d go home and study the globe most nights in preparation for my turn. Now, when I go home to visit my parents I still turn to my dad for a trusty hand drawn map rather than opting for GPS.

{Map above: My life in maps depicts everywhere I’ve lived up until now. It’s funny to see there are a few reoccurring places. Click to enlarge.}

I am by no means an artist/painter, and this map of “Places I’ve Been” is a bit outdated now (I have been to 30+ countries), but I made it as part of a map workshop at MICA several years ago. It was the perfect excuse to try something new. In terms of my favorite travel places, you can find many of them mapped on Everplaces.

— Anne Ditmeyer (@pretavoyager) February 17, 2013

I first discovered this paper globe thanks to Judith aka You can download your own “Le Paper Globe” by Joachim Robert. (Note, it took me ~3 hours but was a fun distraction from the computer and a nice hands-on project). I then used paint dabs to chart our 2002 voyage around the world on Semester at Sea. (Our route was Bahamas, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Seattle!). To top it off I made a 6 second Vine on my phone that you see above (it’s even better with the sound on!).

If you read my blog, chances are you’ve seen this map several times now. I made it as part of my ‘Tour de France: Paris‘ series where I invited local bloggers to show us their arrondissement (district). For each individual post I colored the specific arrondissement.

I also love hand drawn + imperfect maps. One night at a party I was talking with a Spanish friend who has lived in Paris for 4 years, but said he didn’t really understand the city. So, I drew him a map from memory. The next day I compared it to a real map – some areas in the east of Paris were a bit off, but overall, I got my point across: Paris is a snail divided into 20 districts.

Afficher We Are Here – Skillshare Map Making sur une carte plus grande

Finally, this is an updated version of the interactive map from when I first posted it, depicting all the places the students in my class live around the world. Isn’t online learning awesome!?! (There would be even more dots if it included the wide range of places people are from).

Oh, and I’ve decided this should be the theme song for my class!

P.S. New BOARDING PASS later this week!