Gaxian Calendar Wrap-Up

One last post about these calendars! I’m so happy with how they turned out. I took the above picture when I picked them up from the printer — the colors were so bright and vivid I lost my breath for a second. That sounds super dumb but it’s true. No better feeling than seeing something that used to not exist suddenly exist because sufficient force of will was applied. (Maybe there are some better feelings, but not this week, not for me.)

Over the last couple of days we had a lot of hand work assembling the full calendar kits. Here’s painter Max Shepard adding his signature to all 250+ covers:

And a whole crew came on board to collate and package each set:

In addition to the cards themselves, each calendar shipped with a backboard and set of hooks. I special-ordered the backboards, pre-cut to size, from a mill in Wisconsin. Here’s Max drilling pilot holes for the hooks (4 per board):

I borrowed the drill press from an eccentric dude who lives across the street! Good to get to know your neighbors. I also almost borrowed a belt sander (homemade from a washing machine motor) that he was storing in six inches of standing water in an oil drum, but ultimately decided against it.

So that’s it?

A few people have asked why, if the calendars have sold out but interest remains, why not just print more?

It’s a fair question — when the Hyperbolic Upgrade Stickers flew off the shelves earlier this year, I wasted no time rushing more into production.

I think the answer is threefold:

First, I want to be fair to folks who picked one up because they knew it was a limited edition.

Second, it would take time to do another printing — time to print the cards; order, sand, and drill more wood; collate and package everything. Not a big deal any other time of year, but it’s almost Christmas and I don’t think I should really try to squeeze in more projects right away.

And third, it’s a calendar. It has a shelf life by design. I don’t want to print a bunch more that I’d ultimately have to sit on, or try to clear out later at a discount — I think that would devalue them.

I have a weird problem with questions of waste and efficiency. I hate waste. Here are real things that I’ve done in an attempt to eliminate waste in my work:

• I’ve tried to conceive of new products strictly to take advantage of existing envelopes left over from a different project.

• I’ve had paid employees use scissors to cut out usable parts from scrap labels, despite the fact that just buying a pack of brand-new labels would probably be more cost efficient.

• I’ve packed — unpacked — re-packed — unpacked — and re-packed orders because I wasn’t sure which size shipping box would fit the order most precisely (despite the fact that the shipping cost would have been the same in any case).

Mentally, I think I would rather sell 250 calendars and have them all gone then print 250 more calendars and sell only 50-100 in a trickle over the course of the next three months. Besides, you would never hear me shut up about them as I tried to sell them all!

Again, this is because of the shelf life of a calendar-type item. I’ve got thousands of posters and stickers and books that I’ll move over the coming months and years, no problem. But calendars have an endpoint to their salability, and I couldn’t bear to have half a box of these beautiful things lingering here for years, unsold and growing dusty. It would break my heart.

I concede that that may be a strange point of view for a business owner to take, but well, here we are.

THAT BEING SAID

To rebut myself, I think there is probably an argument to be made that not every calendar has to have a shelf life. A collection of posters or jokes doesn’t necessarily grow less interesting because it also happens to have dates printed on part of it that have already passed. Also, of course, you can re-use calendars in future years, if you do the math right.

As a way of exploring this idea, and as a valuable public service, I’ve been using Tumblr to review old calendars that you can re-use in 2013. Here are two posts (so far) on the subject:

Vintage KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES 1985 Hanging Calendar Towel

Why do you need a calendar on a towel, or for that matter, a towel on a calendar? Most of the towels I use on a daily basis are either in the bathroom (where I quite frankly don’t care what day it is, as I have more, uh, pressing issues) or in the kitchen (where towels are usually crammed through the handle of an oven or fridge, thus rendering any calendar information that might be printed on it unreadable). A towel seems to me an unusual medium for conveying information to members of a household… (read more)

1985 Calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses

At its worst, a wall calendar is just 12 nice pictures on whatever theme. You can look at the pictures and enjoy them, and ignore the people who ask you why you have an out-of-date calendar on your wall, like it’s some kind of CRIME. Why do they even CARE, it’s not their HOUSE. Unless it’s your wife in which case WHY CAN’T YOU REALIZE THAT MARRIAGE IS ABOUT COMPROMISE… (read more)

I…

I will be honest with you, I did not expect to become a person who was this opinionated about calendars