Behind the Windows of New York

Last week my friend Caitlin sent me the link to Windows of New York. I’m a huge fan of side projects (and think it’s the new way to get a job/hired), and this one instantly caught my eye. I use my French Lessons series as excuse to get over my fear of drawing and improve my Illustrator skills. Ultimately it is simple shapes that make up these windows, but I love that something so mundane also can be so visually interesting. The man behind the project is José Guizar, a Mexican designer living in New York. On his website he describes the project as “part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.” Still, I wanted to know more, so I decided to go straight to the source and ask José a few questions (don’t miss the comment about hot pink!).
1. What was the moment when you decided “I need to drawn windows”?
I think my favorite thing to do since I landed in NYC is to get lost in the city streets. Any time I feel lonely, angry or stressed out, exploring beautiful streets is my therapy. I think it was in the late summer of 2012, when the sunset would cast the most gorgeous shadows on brownstones when I decided I wanted to start an illustration project that involved the windows and fire escapes I was smitten with, that would keep me periodically creating new stuff, and that somehow would immortalize my time in New York.

2. Which one was your first window?

430 Broome Street.

3. Do you think the hard to draw windows are also the hard to install windows?
I am the least handy person around – so I’ll stick to drawing them.

4. What is your process from picking a window to drawing it?
I collect tons of photos of windows that I find interesting. Then, when it’s time for the soothing weekend ritual of drawing a window, I usually select one that is somehow different to the previous one to keep it interesting. I don’t really have a special window-hunting trip on a certain day – I’m looking at windows all the time; from my commute to work to my groceries walk. It’s quite a fixation now.

5. How long have you been in NYC? How do you think being from Mexico influences how you see windows?
I moved to NYC early last year. Yes – being from Mexico influences the way I see windows because as an outsider my eyes are open and I’m driven by a desire to explore. I’m also definitely influenced by the colors of my home country and I believe that can be seen in all my work – only a Mexican would use hot pink and lime green as fearlessly as I do and still make things look reasonable.

Thanks, José! View his portfolio here + more windows here!

For another peek inside a side project, learn about the gnomes of Oakland! This project also reminds me a bit of Andrew Losowsky’s book The Doorbells of Florence!

p.s. It’s not too late to sign up for my MAP MAKING class on Skillshare! There are over 650+ students from around the world representing 33 countries and 38 U.S. states – and counting… I promise no design experience or special software required. Sign up HERE.

{Images: José Guizar / Windows of New York}

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!

How to Ride the Paris Metro

Before the holidays Ashley (aka Chasing Heartbeats) and I signed up for the Visual Storytelling class on Skillshare taught by the lovely Helena Price. In our class there were two lectures (live but being in Europe I watched the recorded versions) and ample opportunity for Q&A and feedback from Helena and our classmates. Ashley and I decided to collaborate because one afternoon while she was in Paris we shot some footage of me riding the metro for fun. We weren’t taking it too seriously, but figured we could make something out of it. Even if Photoshop isn’t my favorite for working with type, Ashley and I both love Photoshop 6 because you can edit video in it (see her Everplaces video, or my iPhone video of Hotel Negresco). This class was the perfect excuse to give us the extra kick to finish the project we had sort of started, while testing out some new skills on our own time. Sure, we finished our video 2 months after the class, but hey, we did it all remotely, and it’s done and we had fun! (Don’t worry, it’s short + sweet, but we did go 15 seconds over our 30-second assignment).

Speaking of Skillshare, I’m teaching a Map Making class starting on the 18th. I’ve kept busy schedules in mind, so it’s no stress + all fun. There are some truly awesome inspiring people in the class already, so I do hope you will join us! Student projects (still in brainstorming phase) include maps of the Ivory Coast (because there aren’t many maps and they get lost on hikes), a wedding map in Wisconsin, a map of Dublin transportation, a map of local neighborhoods for Sudanese refugees, parklets in SF, an Agatha Christie interactive map of Tasmania, craft stores in Amsterdam, favorite walks in Sydney, maps for house guests, embroidered maps, memory maps, the list goes on! Join us.


P.S. If you live in Europe or plan on visiting soon, you should enter Ashley’s “heartbeats session” photo giveaway!

P.S.S. The font in the video is Blanch by Atipus on Lost Type.

P.S.S.S. Thanks Angelo  for being a fun assistant and putting up with our crazy ideas and adventures!


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