It all began with a light bulb moment. Natalia, the designer and brains behind Yozhik&Co, woke up one day with the want to shake things up and an idea to create a calendar. At the time, she had a cutting machine that was sitting in a corner eating dust for over a year, and thought, what if? That’s how the specialty cut calendars were born. Natalia created a special Yozhik&Co line, The Collaboration Series, to collaborate more with other designers. The amazing and talented Jessi Adrignola designed and illustrated the quirky 2017 Cat Calendar, as part of The Collaboration Series. Jessi Adrignola is a designer based in Chicago. Among her adventures in design she can be found collaborating with artists and writers on comic books, getting her hands dirty creating her grunge style lettering, and experimenting on art projects.
When Jessi first approached the project, she asked herself what she would want to see on her desk every single day. Most people buy products because they have an emotional connection with them, no matter what kind of community or sub-culture they identify with. She thought of the calendars people create online with photos of the people they care about. Then realized, it might not be people at all. She loves her cats like any other family member, and if we have learned anything from the internet, it’s that people love their pet videos. The cat theme idea came to fruition. I knew having the die-cut for ears would in itself speak as a long distance “poster” and also work for a cut-out design every month.
All of the Yozhik&Co desktop calendars are specialty cut, loose sheet format. Some designs range from a different cut for every month to one or two different cuts throughout the year. Paper layering, color, the positioning of the die-cuts and the small calendar size are a few of the challenges in creating the desktop calendars. All of these factors (and a few more) need to be considered as a whole in order for the calendars to work. The Cat Calendar is comprised of two die-cuts, with the graphics printed full bleed on white paper.
While designing the calendar Jessi realized the more complicated and intricate she made the cuts for the faces and ears, the less the visual looked like a cat. Having too many layers show through posed the problem of too many colors vibrating against each other, and having too few colors in the design didn’t give the emotion and presence she felt each month needed to stand alone. Making the cat faces change in size also started to take away too much real estate for the calendar text, so it would sacrifice the functionality of the design. If it became too abstract, Jessi worried that the customer wouldn’t connect with each month in the same way, and it might dissuade someone from buying.
It was a simplification of her initial ideas, that created the end product where the illustration really became the main focus and the die-cuts and color changes supported them. Jessi needed to consider the end-user who would be seeing this calendar in their space every day. She couldn’t “degrade” the design after it was flipped each month just because it looked great for the beginning of the year, with the end of the year not being engaging.