Anne Stark Ditmeyer: the writer with an affinity for travel & design

You’d be forgiven for being a little confused when Anne Stark Ditmeyer tells you what she does for a living. This talented Paris-based writer, editor and designer has her fingers in so many different pies, that it’s difficult to pin down which day job occupies most of her time. One thing’s definite – Anne is passionate about travel.

Anne has contributed to countless boutique travel and lifestyle magazines and guides, and in 2007 launched her own online guide Prêt à Voyager to explore the intersection of travel and design. Anne also hosts regular online workshops on Skillshare, focused on map making, and designing professional documents.

One of Anne’s most recent projects was curating and penning the Herb Lester Paris Small Shops guide celebrating specialty shops both new and old in Paris.

Pret a voyager

A Day in the Life of Anne Stark Ditmeyer

Where do you call home? 

I’m an American who has called Paris home since 2009. I love what a walkable city Paris is, and how I can walk for hours and always discover new things.

Tell us about a day in the life of the Prêt à Voyager?

Most of my time lately is spent as the communications manager for a design school in Paris. At least once a week I check in on my Skillshare students and see if there are any new class projects I can provide feedback on.

Typically I give two Vayable tours a week – this is the perfect balance for me. I love meeting people and showing them Paris, and it’s a great way to unplug from my computer.

How did you become involved in the Herb Lester Guide project?

The best thing about having an online presence, is that often it means the opportunities come to you. I’ve long loved Herb Lester guides, so when they reached out to me to write the Paris Small Shops guide it was a true honour. It became a great collaboration between the Herb Lester team, Crispin Finn (the illustrators), and myself. I am THRILLED with the final result.

What could we expect to learn in your latest Skillshare workshop?

Skillshare has been a fun way for me to connect with people all over the world. I offer classes in map making, travel posters, InDesign, and designing professional documents (CV/resume re-design).

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Do believe rituals are an important part of creativity?

I know my best ideas come when I’m swimming laps, walking round Paris, or literally making connections in the metro (it connects ideas in my brain too!). Part of my creative process is being inspired by the world around me.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few…

I have a growing collection of maps and travel guides, mainly for Paris, but also for places all over the world (including places I’ve never been). Most of them are less traditional rather than mainstream guides.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

I love books! Regardless of how connected I am in the digital world, nothing beats a good book. They are my favourite ‘decor’ item in my home and bring me joy to see them on my shelves. I recently started a shelf that is just books by friends of mine, which is inspiring to stare at.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Embrace your quirks. So much of the time I feel like everything on the internet looks the same, so now more than ever I think it’s important that we all embrace who we are, in our own ways.

Bonus lesson: Never use the phrases ‘pick your brain’ or ‘I hope this doesn’t sound creepy’ when emailing someone.

Anne Ditmeyer / Prêt à Voyager

Favourite corner of the Internet?

I love Twitter. I’ve met some of my best friends on there and it’s opened a lot of doors for me. I feel like the accounts I follow make me a more educated citizen and expose me to different perspectives and opportunities.

My favourite podcasts are Design Matters by Debbie Millman and After the Jump with Grace Bonney.

Urban Favourites

Top three places for co-working in Paris?

  • NUMA is my favourite. The ground floor is free (but may get full), there’s a café, and start-up incubators on the upper floors.
  • Public libraries and spaces are also great. I loved working at the Mediatheque at Quai Branly when I was writing my thesis.
  • Traditional French bistros, such as l’Autre Café, often have free wifi.

Favourite hidden Parisian spot?

L’Illustre Boutique. It’s a tiny shop, but I love how it celebrates independent French designers and illustrators. Also, the window displays are always a delight!

Most beautiful outdoor space?

It’s technically indoors, but the (free) botanical gardens, Serres d’Auteuil are amazing. Each room features a different plant type!

What to do on a rainy day?

I love going to the cinema, and it feels like such a French thing to do. My Cinema Pass is the best 20€ I spend each month for unlimited movies in the theatre!

Where to spend a Sunday morning?

The morning market at Bastille followed by a coffee or brunch at Café de l’Industrie, which I love for the traditional French ambiance – ironically harder to find these days.

Best place for exercise?

Although the Paris pools drive me bonkers at time, I still love them, and they provide me with endless content to write about. Many of them are quite beautiful too! Over the past year I completed my goal of visiting all 39 public pools.

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Visit Anne’s website.

Read Anne’s design tips on taking your CV from ugly to looking ship-shape.

You’ve read about Anne’s favourite spots around Paris, now tell us yours in the comments below.

Portrait image by: Ashley Ludaescher