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.
2013I 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.
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).
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).
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".
2014When I worked on the 2015 calendar, things were a bit easier for me.
(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.
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.
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.
2015Learning from the previous year's calendars, I changed it up again for 2016.
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.
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).
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!).
2016When 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).
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.
I am delighted with how this calendar turned out.
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.