3 Weeks of Map Making

MakeAMap-givegiftSure you have the joy of taking my Skillshare classes year round at your own pace, but just in time for the holidays, I thought it’d be fun to run a special map making session where I share new ideas, inspiration and resources. I’ll be sending regular email reminders to keep everyone on track, as well as giving feedback to projects. The goal is to encourage people to make a gift this year, rather than buying one. What better gift than a map?

For some added inspiration you can see some of the amazing and creative projects students have created in this class in the past. It’s open to all levels and abilities, and there’s no need to be a designer to join. The videos haven’t changed since I first launched the class, but I’ve added annotations and loads of new resources.

To join you need to sign up for my Map Making class (the membership will let you take as many Skillshare classes as your heart desires), and also sign up for the session. I’ll also be giving away two awesome prizes to one lucky participant: a copy of the Herb Lester Paris Small Shops city guide I wrote, as well as a copy of the book The Art of Illustrated Maps by John Roman. Hope to see you there!!


Links to my other Skillshare classes: The Art of Travel Posters, Map Making, Basic InDesign, InDesign in 30 Minutes and Redesign Your Résumé.

New class: InDesign in 30 minutes

InDesign-in30minutes-Skillshare-ASDInDesign in 30 Minutes is an easily digestable class that can be taken on your lunch break to help build InDesign skills and it’s my latest Skillshare class that is now online. All Skillshare classes are project based, and in this class you’ll recreate your favorite magazine spread. There are even some helpful PDF cheat sheets I’ve created that you can download in the class resources. Sign up here + if you have friends who may be interested, share this link: http://skl.sh/1Kf8vk9.

UPDATE: Starting October 6th I’m offering at 2-week Résumé Redesign “Session” on Skillshare where I’ll be sending regular updates, new Discussions, giving feedback, and sharing a bonus 10-Year Plan activity. Don’t worry if you get a late start. Sign up for Skillshare using the link above, and then join the Session here.

For those looking for other InDesign options, I also teach a Basic InDesign class (which is a longer form version where I walk through a few other features), as well as a Redesign Your Résumé (or any professional document to make it less boring) class. For something a bit more “fun” there’s Map Making and Travel Posters.

Love Learning: Getting the Word Out

pretavoyager-Skillshare-lovelearningAs many of you already know, one of the many hats I wear is as an instructor on the online learning community, Skillshare. Skillshare has been instrumental in my success as a freelancer, helping me get my feet on the ground. Education is a subject I’m very passionate about, and Skillshare makes amazing classes and instructors accessible, at a very affordable price. I am incredibly thankful at the success of all three of my classes, and am very aware that none of them would have been as successful as they have been without my wonderful blog readers and friends of the internet.

I’m running a special “back to school” promotion between August 15 – September 15th, where I’ll be providing daily feedback on project boards in the Skillshare classroom. (Note: I’ll only be commenting on projects shared on Skillshare so that everyone can benefit from seeing the feedback from others). I also have created a special discount code that will give you $5 off when you use the links below.

In the coming weeks and months, I’m also doing my best to spread the word about my classes to recruiters, career offices, libraries, universities, unemployment offices, students, and anyone eager to learn. I’ve compiled this post to have all the information in one place, which is easy to share, but I’m also happy to send it to you in email form to forward, if you have any contacts you think can help. I’ve also linked to PDF printable posters for each class which you can download. Everything in online education is a bit of an experiment, and I’m be happy to hear any other ideas you have for creative outreach.

Thank you in advance for any assistance! The internet rocks!!
Skillshare-DesignProfessionalDocumentsMaking Boring Documents Beautiful aka Designing Professional Documents examines documents we see in everyday life and how design can be used as a tool for communication. The class project is to redesign your résumé (or any “boring” document), and the skills learned in this class can be applied to any future document you work on. Code BCK2SCH for $5 off with the link above! [download the printable PDF poster]
Skillshare-LearnInDesignLearn Basic InDesign is a beginner level course, which is also perfect for someone looking to refresh their skills or needs to work with marketing materials. The class project is to design a simple portfolio, photo essay or look book using text and images in a multi-page document. Code BCK2SCH for $5 off with the link above! [download the printable PDF poster]
Skillshare-MapMakingMap Making is a class designed to help you think creatively about the world around you through both hand drawn and digital mapping. The class project is to make your own map! The online classroom is full of resources compiled with the help of students from all 5 continents and over 50 countries around the world. Code BCK2SCH for $5 off with the link above! [download the printable PDF poster]

Skillshare is an online learning community offering affordable classes by industry professionals. Most classes are $20 for lifetime access, or you can sign up for their $9.95/month plan for access to tons of classes. Everything is online, so you can be anywhere in the world – as long as you have internet!

Anne Ditmeyer is an American designer/editor based in Paris, France. She also goes by Prêt à Voyager (or @pretavoyager).

****UPDATE: As of Sept 20, 2014, all Skillshare classes will only be available under the $9.95/mo membership model (which gives you access to all Skillshare classes). At that time the discount codes mentioned above will no longer be valid, however, please continue to use the referral links when signing up or sharing these classes.****

Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Vine!

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!

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.

Follow my adventures on Instagram + Twitter!

Teaching InDesign on Skillshare!


After Paris tips and bureaucracy questions, how to use InDesign is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive. Until now it’s been hard to find a sustainable model, as many people who are interested are typically students or unemployed  (ahem, without a budget) and wanting to build their skill set. Thanks to Skillshare (where I also teach map making!), I’m offering Learn InDesign Basics: Layouts, Type & Images class that is only $20. Like all Skillshare classes, you can follow along at your own pace as all the lectures are pre-recorded, and you’ll have lifetime access. Once the class officially kicks off on August 13th, you can take it any time and anywhere, according to your own schedule. The course is open to anyone at any level who is eager to learn, and there’s a Q&A section where you can ask any questions. The class project is to create a multi-page portfolio or photo essay using words and images. It’s really open to interpretation and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!


I’m looking forward to getting started in August because I think it’s the perfect time to learn something new before “back to school” and the fall grind kick in. (Paris is a serious ghost town already and so much easier to focus). To learn more about the class or to sign up for Learn InDesign Basics: Layouts, Type & Images just visit this link: http://skl.sh/12mRWfd

P.S. If you’re sharing on social media, please copy and paste the referral links below. As with my map making class, it was all of you online who helped spread the word and made it a complete success!


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 Joelix.com. 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!

We Are Here

View We Are Here – Skillshare Map Making in a larger map

One of the perks of online learning is that the classroom is open to anyone in the world. Every day gets more and more exciting as people sign up for my Skillshare Map Making class. There are already 75 students signed up and class doesn’t even start until the 18th (I’m dreaming 500+). Not everyone has filled in their profiles yet, but I think it’s pretty amazing to already have 11 countries represented in the class, and multiple students + cities in most places too. So I decided to start a Google map to mark where everyone is from (ahem, I see a couple continents that still need representatives!). Sure this class is about making maps – I know people have projects planned to sell in their Etsy shop, to give to guests in their home, to remember their favorite trip to Rome, and more – but it’s also about the people you’ll meet and interact with in the online classroom (and hopefully in Google Hangouts too). So far we have graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, bloggers, community managers, magazine contributors, and non-creative-but-still-awesome types, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what people come up with. Just think about all the cool places we’ll be discovering in the process. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites on PAV, but I hope you’ll consider joining us!

You can sign up HERE, or read more about the class on PAV here. I’ve even made a widget if you want to share it on your blog and spread the word. Just save the image below and add the link: http://skl.sh/S3wqIa

I’m Teaching Maps on Skillshare!

Since the beginning this site has always been about the intersection of travel + design and I’m excited to announce another direction I’m taking this idea. For the past couple months I’ve been talking to Skillshare – an awesome platform for taking online (and sometimes in person) classes. They essentially gave me the guidelines to come up with my dream class, and so that’s what I did.

My class is called Map Design: Learn to Communicate Places Beautifully. I was inspired by my own way of travel where I don’t want to carry around a bulky guidebook, I like to see things on a map (in the past I have walked crazy distances having no clue places were not close at all), and getting advice from local experts. I designed the map of the Canal St. Martin area of Paris as just one of a million possibilities of what you could create in this class. (Computer + design skills NOT required!!).

So here’s how it works:

  1. You sign up! (All Skillshare classes are totally affordable!)
  2. This class is perfect if you want to chart your latest travels, are planning a wedding/event and need a map, host guests in your home a lot, or just love your own neighborhood and want to map it. It’s open to all levels, ages and stages. Enthusiasm + eagerness to learn will get you far!
  3. The class is structured into 3 units:  Hand Drawn Maps + Concepting, Mapping in the Digital Age + Alternative Guides, and Office Hours (Q&A and Google Hangouts with me + your classmates).
  4. Knowing people have really busy lives, I’ve structured it so that both of the lectures come early in the 3 week online class. They’ll be pre-recorded and you can watch them whenever you have a chance. That gives you more time to work on your final project: a travel/map of the place + theme of your choosing.
  5. Both of the main lectures will have mini exercises to help get you thinking about mapping in a new way. They are designed to encourage you to disconnect from your computer, and realize that even great maps can be imperfect. You share your work with your classmates along the way, which is an awesome way to get you thinking about all the different ways you can approach the same design challenge.
  6. Work on your final projects, which can be print or digital. During the lectures I’ll share tons of examples, talk about format, and give you ideas so you can create your own map(s) for however you want it. And if there’s anything you still have questions about, you can just ask. It’s a highly collaborative environment and your classmates are awesome resources too.
  7. All while you’re learning you’re interacting and checking in with the progress of your classmates. You can create “groups” too for people working on projects similar to yours. I’ve taken a couple classes through Skillshare now and have even made some great professional contacts. There some awesome people around you, so make the most of it!
  8. Awards! As part of the incentive to stay on task, the top 10 maps created in class will be shared on Prêt à Voyager! I’m trying to cook up some other awesome rewards, but you’ll just have to sign up to see where that goes.
  9. Even if your life gets kind of hectic during the time of the class, you’ll still have access to the information even after the technical last day of class. The idea too is the skills + resources you pick up in this class will stick with you and you can apply to any future projects or maps.
  10. More info on the class here.

I’ve taken a handful of Skillshare classes now and I find they’re the perfect excuse to actually DO the projects I’ve been thinking about for ages. If you want to to sign up for my class you can do it here. Skillshare has TONS of awesome classes you should check out regardless – anything from logo design to designing web apps to food photography or how to make the perfect meatball, and with some of the coolest teachers around! Check out all the Skillshare classes here! (And they’re constantly adding new ones).

Any questions? Just leave them in the comments below, or tweet me @pretavoyager!

UPDATE: I’ve created a Google map of all the students signed up here. More than 10 countries around the world + counting!

P.S. Look at the map in this post for 10 seconds + tell me what you see :)

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