It's that time of year again! The annual 55 Hi's calendar is upon us. This year, after careful deliberation, we decided to go with the theme Junk Food, cause who can resist junk food every now and then?
Chris Sandlin, the man behind SockMonkee, made a triumphant return to help us out again this year illustrating 6 of the characters for the calendar. It was great to have him back from two years ago when we did The 2012 Monster Calendar which was our first foray into this themed calendar business.
Chris and I started talking about this late last year and we have been hard at work illustrating and designing these characters ever since. In case you aren't totally familiar with how our calendars work, each character is inspired by a well known event, holiday, or common theme of the month it represents. Chris and I trade off months with him starting things off with his Party Pizza Slice for January. We each do 6 characters and combine them to form one big calendar.
Process is always something I really enjoy seeing and throughout the drawing of these characters, I took screenshots so you can see the evolution of them being finished. Above are the sketches and final products for all my monthly character contributions. Clockwise from top left: Frankencorn, Back To School Candy Apple, Christmas Cookie, It's Raining Jaw Breakers!, Candy Heart Colin, and Donut Dad with his little donut-hole children. Below is some process of Chris's sketching for his characters.
I suppose if you follow 55 Hi's at all, it's no secret that we work with Mama's Sauce for the printing of our goods. For this release, we asked them to do a little behind the scenes documentation and they were kind enough to oblige. The specs for this here calendar is a 16x24, 5-color screenprint on Sweet Tooth Paper from French Paper Co. Five colors is the most we have ever printed at 55 Hi's and it's been exciting seeing it come together one color at a time.
As you can see, these posters are printed the hard way. Each color is hand mixed and matched to a Pantone and then printed one poster at a time, one color at a time, while keeping a constant eye on the prints to make sure one of the seven million problems that can arise during screen printing aren't happening.
After you print the first color, and let the sheets dry, you put them in a an enormous stack like the one below, and get to printing again. Dry and repeat 4 more times.
When I first started 55 Hi's, and did my own printing in-house, registering that many colors at once was a little out of my league. Each time a color is printed, if you are even a little off register, it effects how the color after it is going to sit, and if you mess up early in the game, you can end up with a whole bunch of misprints by the third color.
Now, we leave that sort of thing up to the professionals, and since it's not our arms doing the squegee pulling anymore, we decided to go all out and bring back a full palette of candy colored goodness.
Here are a few shots 3 & 4 colors into the process. With this particular poster, the black is really what brings everything together and the colors don't really look all that great, or even make sense, until the last color get put down. The black outline is always the most gratifying cause it feels like a magic trick after every pull.
You have this really intricate combination of colors that don't make any sense until the screen comes back up and you (hopefully) discover this polished piece of artwork. PACHOW! That's what I used to say after every pull of the squegee. Ok, fine, I never said that once. You can see what I'm talking about below with the July's hot dog guy. He doesn't even have a face until the last step.
Once all is said and done, we get to trimming, numbering, and packaging! Since our Posters our now Limited Edition, we only print a set amount and that's it for the poster. No more in any color combo or edition will be printed. For these, they are limited to 500 and we hand number each and every one.
We also decided to bring in a little twist (literally), and package up this special release in a Tootsie Roll inspired Limited Edition packaging. Each one of these is rolled up in a bright candy colored tissue paper and given a custom Junk Food Calendar packaging wrap. Many of these calendars get given as gifts for Christmas and what's better than receiving a tootsie roll Junk Food Calendar!
The Junk Food Calendars are available as desk models too. We had a lot of people interested in past calendars, but weren't able to take them home because of lack of wall space. Well this year, we decided to scale it down a bit and release a hangable desk sized version for offices or cubicles. Each calendar is trimmed down to 4 x 6.25 and comes with a black cotton cord for hanging.
The last item we're releasing today is one we have been getting asked about for a whole year. After the success of last year's Robot Calendar with Justin Mezzell, we decided to bring it back this year in a desk version! Robot Turkey is back!