Though I have yet to meet Anne in person, her work and creative journey are nothing short of incredible and I'm so glad we all get to learn more about her through the powers of the internet. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, so let's see what she had to say!
JEN: When people ask you what you do for a living, how do you generally respond?
ANNE: Funny, I know that I'm inevitably going to be asked this question, but I have yet to come up with an answer that I'm happy with. I'm such a visual person that I always think it's easier to see something to understand it, which is harder in conversation. Also, I do a ton of different things – something particularly foreign to the French who tend to have highly focused career trajectories. I think of mine as a hybrid.
I've also been thinking a lot lately of how to explain myself in terms of what I want to be doing, rather than just what I'm doing now. It's also interesting that terms like freelancer and blogger can have a negative connotation based on the person's experience with them (particularly an older generation). Right now I consider myself a communications designer and writer focused on travel and education, bridging online and "real" worlds. I tend to work with small independent businesses and start ups who see the world creatively.
I seriously forget what I do sometimes because I juggle so much. I teach online on Skillshare (Map Design and InDesign, which are open to anyone who wants to sign up), teach an undergrad Designer/ Entrepreneur class at Parsons Paris, give tours of Paris through Vayable and do freelance consulting, social media and graphic design work.
I have worked as a long time contributing editor for Design*Sponge, and have written for publications from time to time including Anthology, easyJet Traveller, Dwell, Kinfolk, and Fast Co. Design. Here's the catch: I rarely pitch ideas. Most opportunities come to me – that's how I ended up being published in these magazines. That never would have happened before my blog and twitter, which have allowed me to share my voice and create a name for myself. I started Prêt à Voyager in 2007, so it's been a slow and steady race to get where I am now, but proof that hard work pays off.
J: You currently live and work in Paris. How does working as a creative in Paris differ from working in America?
A: Health care. I honestly don't think I could afford to be a freelancer in the U.S. The cost of living in Paris isn't cheap and I pay hefty social charges, but it's comforting to know if I get sick, I won't be in as much debt. I also like that doctor's offices feel more like going to someone's home instead of some sterile void. I'm sure at the end of the day it all evens out, but it's more the peace of mind that comes with socialized medicine.
The other big difference is that I lose a lot of money in the exchange rate. Where my work comes from changes all the time, but right now most of my earnings are coming from U.S. clients. So not only do I lose in the exchange rate, but also in PayPal fees or wire transfers.
On the up side, I've been really fortunate to find fabulous French friends, most of whom do their own thing. It's been wonderfully inspiring and encouraging for me to do my own thing too. Overall, I've tried to create a job for myself that I can do anywhere. You never know what the future will bring so I want to be able to be ready for anything.