I first got to know Anne a year ago through her travel blog Pret à Voyager. In a regular feature called “Boarding Pass,” Anne has been interviewing creative people on how they travel. It’s a must read for anyone with a passion for exploring foreign lands – you feel you get to live vicariously through their adventures.
Besides being a talented graphic designer in her own right, Anne is also an impressive “coolhunter,” constantly finding and sharing edgy and awe-inspiring designs she spots in the streets of Paris and around the web.
What is your name, age, and location?
Anne Ditmeyer, 30, Paris, France.
What is your profession?
I’m a freelance graphic designer, blogger (Prêt à Voyager), contributing editor for design*sponge, writer, and social media specialist, specifically interested in travel, place branding and crossing cultures. It’s pretty organic what I do, and all is part of a puzzle that seems to be fitting together, and I’d love to get into more consulting and teaching next. My professional site, anneditmeyer.com should be going live any day now.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I studied Art History and Anthropology at the University of Virginia, loving they way I was able to use visuals to learn about different subjects and the world. I spent my third year abroad, first with a semester in Paris with the Wells College Program for the Arts (which was amazing to have courses in my professors’ homes, and regular excursions in the city), followed by a 10-country voyage around the world on Semester at Sea. It’s funny I never had any desire to get higher degrees, but in May I’ll officially have two [Masters]! My first is a Masters in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore, and I just finished up a Master’s in Global Communications at the American University of Paris, where my thesis was entitled Changing Landscapes: Tourism & New Media in Morocco.
What was your first job?
I hate that there’s so much pressure for young people to get internships and desk jobs. All through high school, and even summers in college I worked as a lifeguard and swim coach. I loved being outside and being able to interact with people and get fresh air (and this is all in the pre-cell phone era). Otherwise, my first “real job” was through the professional internship program at CENTERSTAGE theater in Baltimore, where I worked in graphics and PR. I was doing grad school at the time, and so it was great that what I was learning in the classroom paid off in work, and vice versa. Even better than the work experience were the amazing people I met that year, who are still dear to me, and constantly inspire me in the things they do.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
The two people who have inspired me most are Grace Bonney and Ellen Lupton. Grace is the founder and editor of design*sponge. I love how she’s taken pretty things and help made them more meaningful through strong editorial content and engaging projects, all while elevating the idea of blogging, and showcasing a true entrepreneurial spirit, in an open and supportive platform (and very cool that I’ve been part of the team for 3+ years now). I first came across Ellen Lupton when I was living in Baltimore. Ellen is another wonder woman who wears many hats as the head of the MFA in Graphic Design program at MICA, curator for the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, author (of books and articles), amongst numerous other projects. I’m a big fan of her approach to design, making it something that is accessible, all while working to push programming and curriculum to think beyond the classroom.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
Last summer I met David Lebovitz at an event in Paris. We got to talking, and decided it would be fun to do a project together for design*sponge. I ran the idea by Grace, and she was all for it. So using her magical skills of the interweb (aka Twitter), she found an awesome videographer (Christian Wilmes) for us. Meanwhile, I worked on the storyline (market, cooking, interview), script and figured out which locations would work best (most have some meaning to me in the times I’ve spent in Paris), all while finishing up an intensive summer school program. It was A LOT of work, but the result was fantastic, and we were all so pleased. It was amazing how quickly it came together, and was also a good reminder of what a pleasure it is to work with professionals who know what they’re doing.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
In college I was a coxswain for the UVA men’s crew team. While I was tall (and used to be a rower), I was light enough. It was pretty cool telling a bunch of big, buff men what to do. And crew is one of those sports that bonds you together for life.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
Luckily I can’t think of a specific incident, but sometimes I fear women can be catty. I prefer to be drama free, and just do my own thing.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
Growing up both of my parents worked in jobs involving cubicles or highrise offices. Something about it never appealed to me, but now that they’re both retired, they’re working as much as they want, but doing more interesting projects as freelancers and consultants where their expertise really shines (and still get paid to travel), and I’m like, that’s what I want to do! Funny, I aspire to be retired!?
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
First, take any opportunity to study or work abroad. Otherwise, I’d say don’t under-estimate the power of blogs, Twitter and other social networking tools. They’re amazingly connective and you can find people who think like you, and it’s an wonderful and supportive community out there if you can figure out where you fit in and what makes you tick (and things you never knew made you tick). I’ve even been lucky enough to meet many of these online personas in person, and a lot of wonderful opportunities have come through it. It’s a small world sometimes.
Anne’s blog: Prêt à Voyager
Anne’s site: anneditmeyer.com
Follow Anne on Twitter: @pretavoyager
– Interview by Elena Rossini
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