Before I created my first calendar in 2017, I did everything I could to streamline the process. I researched packaging and shipping and framing to make sure my product conformed to standard sizes. I created templates for my illustrations to minimize inconsistencies from month to month. I inventoried things I already owned to cut show costs. I carved out time for social media and promotion. I even planned illustrations for the first seven years of the calendar, just in case my idea took hold.
The one thing I didn’t do was to start a second calendar before my first one had wrapped, figuring I might jinx things if I got too far ahead of myself. But since then, a natural rhythm has set in – owing mostly to production and show schedules. And I have come to accept the fact that, though each year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st, my calendar business need not be constrained to 12 months. Time is a continuum.
April is a good month in A YEAR IN THE CITY land. This is the time that I nail down pictures for a calendar year that will start 20 months from now. For a few glorious weeks, I drive and walk the metro area in search of twelve perfect visual stories. Sites are selected for their coolness or their quaintness or their historical significance or sometimes just because they’re brand spanking new. I throw these ideas into the seven-year mix, changing things around as needed. In the end, I want to have mostly outdoor scenes with varied color palettes, preferably drawing from all parts of the city and county. Some sites may feature kids. Others, adults. Most of them need to appeal to people of all ages.
With my camera full of pictures, I tear into the illustrations, which can take up to 30 hours apiece. I space these out over a nine-month period – usually completing one or two a month. When I’m finally happy with all twelve, I create the calendar itself, checking and rechecking dates and holidays, tweaking colors, editing blurbs. And then it goes to print, one full year after I started it.
In the months that follow, I bind, package, promote, and sell my calendar – all while creating the next one! Today, for example, I am blogging from the kitchen, where my 2021 calendar hangs on the wall. And I’m getting ready for Laumeier – the first art fair of the year – where I’ll be selling my new 2022 calendar. And I am creating illustrations for 2023.
With the snow we got this week, I’m not entirely sure we’re in the month of April. And I really couldn’t tell you what year it is. But I’m not sure any of that matters. Time, after all, is a continuum. And, in the calendar business, that’s a very good thing.
A YEAR IN THE CITY is now in its 5th year! The new 2022 calendar features the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, the sunflower fields at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, and the Katy Trail. For calendar details, please visit ayearinthecity.com.