Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Introducing the 2017 Watercolor Calendar and Looking Back at the Previous Three Years' Designs

Although I want to continue writing Wednesday posts that are sketchbook related, carrying on with the momentum of the 2x2 Sketchbook project, I'm going to jump in this week with a post not at all related to sketchbooks. Why? Because I just finished my 2017 watercolor art print calendar and I can't wait to share it with you.

One of my favorite things to work on each year is my calendar. The one I just finished designing for 2017 will be my fourth. Each year it's gotten easier for me (and I think each year my calendars have gotten better).

I thought it would be fun to look back at the previous years' designs before I share 2017's.

2013

I designed the first calendar in 2013 for 2014. In truth I had no idea what I was doing. And possibly my art (and skills) weren't quite ready for it, but I went ahead with my dream of creating a calendar anyway.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2014 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

That year's calendar had cover sheets with one of my illustrations on the front and my logo on the back. (Since then I've cut out those extra pages to help keep my costs and labor down. I also stopped trimming 1/4" off the length of the pages, which I did with this first calendar to make it fit nicely on a memo-sized clip board... not really worth the extra work).

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2014 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I had dreamed of designing a calendar with my art and submitting it to Decor8's calendar round up (after seeing the 2010 calendars featured in 2009). (Sadly, by the time I had my own, Decor8 wasn't sharing round-ups of them anymore).

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2014 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

At that time I had only begun to learn Photoshop and there was a huge learning curve.

Something else I needed to learn was to proofread my calendars before printing more than one copy and photographing them. In the first draft of the calendar I gave February and September some extra days. Oops!

Getting good photos of my calendars has always been difficult for me and one thing I noticed going back through my photos is that these older photos were so dark. I've lightened them up for this post, but I 'm surprised by how dark they are (look at this post to see what I mean). Yet another part of my learning curve.

Even so I was very proud of that first design and looking back I am glad that I dove in to designing the calendar even if I wasn't totally "ready".


2014

When I worked on the 2015 calendar, things were a bit easier for me.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2015 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

(I still had a bit of trouble with the photos).

Something else I learned in the process was that the ultra premium paper I use for my calendars does not like Washi tape. Trying to remove it ripped every single page. I ended up leaving it on them and using that calendar as my own.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2015 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

Getting back to the design... for this calendar I changed the text, giving the color a watercolor quality (which Matthias pointed out made it look like there was a problem with the black ink of the printer). If I had used different font it probably would have worked better.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2015 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I was happy with this calendar just the same and glad that designing one each year was becoming a part of my business.

At this point I was still straddling making art and crafting, but I was leaning more toward painting and had opened an Etsy shop just for my art.

2015

Learning from the previous year's calendars, I changed it up again for 2016.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2016 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I made the type for the dates larger and easier to read and I added a pretty script font*.

I also made things easier for myself when designing the dates and created a template that I'll be able to use each year. It still takes a good deal of work arranging and rearranging the dates for each month, but it's a lot easier than it was when I first started.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2016 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I was very careful with this calendar to size the images so that they'd be easy to use as art prints framed in standard (4" x 6") frames. In the past I used the same high-quality paper (I shared all about it in this blog post), but the images in the other calendars weren't kept to a specific size and would have been harder to actually use as art prints. (I wrote a blog post on how to trim my calendars to frame here).

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2016 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I adore the 2016 calendar (and I'm happy to report that it sold very well). For the first time I offered it for sale not only in my Etsy shop, but also on my website (where I began selling my larger, more expensive paintings). I even had a customer write to me and literally mail order calendars (I'm very flexible and accommodating to my customers -- have a question, please ask!).

2016

When it came time to work on the 2017 calendars I felt very comfortable doing so. This year's design went quickly (though I did waffle a bit about which paintings to use as illustrations for each month and ended up switching almost all of them before I felt I was finished).

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2017 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I changed up my font again this year, choosing a modern calligraphy font** that was a bit more playful and a better match for my art.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2017 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

I am delighted with how this calendar turned out.

art print calendar, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, 2017 calendar, My Giant Strawberry

And I hope you will be, too.

I am also very glad that back in 2013 I overcame my fears and followed a dream. With anything in life you have to start somewhere, or rather, you can only start where you are. It's so easy to get discouraged if where you are isn't where you wish you were. The most important lesson I've learned through the years has nothing to do with technique. It's simply this: do not get discouraged; do not give up.

I hope you can keep that in mind, too, no matter what endeavor it is you're beginning.

The 2017 calendar is now available in both my shops.





*the font is called Scriptina and it's available on various sites online for free

** this new font is called Loft Yian. It's available for purchase on Creative Market alone and as part of a font bundle. It's the first time I've ever purchased a font or anything from Creative Market. They offer weekly free downloads of fonts, graphics and other bits. So far I'm happy with the quality of the products from their independent designers.

4 comments:

  1. It is wonderful to see how your calender's have evolved and the learning curve along the way. So often we forget all the preparation and planning that goes into a product before it is offered for sale. Who knew you could buy a font!? Maybe font design is another area you could explore Ann? :)

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    1. Thank you, Simone! We do tend to forget about all that goes into something. And all the learning and stumbling along the way.

      I'd love to design a font (I did have such fun creating the handwritten garden-themed fabric design), but my hand lettering needs a lot more practice before I'm up for that. I think I like the idea of hand-lettering more than the practice of it. Maybe someday it will move up on my to-do list.

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  2. The 2017 calendar looks gorgeous. Good on you for trying even though you didn't feel ready, but it is probably the best way to learn.

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    1. Thanks so much, Zoya. You are so right about it being the best way to learn. Diving right in has always been my approach. :)

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