The Carrot Blog

Carrot Creative is filled with colorful characters. Cultured Carrots is a series that shares the outside passions that inspire the very best work for our clients. This month, Creative Director Harun Zankel talks about his interest in designing old school time-tracking devices: Calendars.

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Carrot: You've been making beautiful calendars for the last few years. What inspired this?

Harun: I've wanted to make a calendar for years because it's a quintessential form of tracking time but there are infinite possibilities when it comes to the design. I was motivated to create the first calendar in 2014 after a terrible freelance experience and I wanted to pursue a project that didn't have a client attached to it but also allowed me to explore typographic and lettering experiments.

C: In a world of digital calendars and reminders, why continue to produce something physical?

H: Nothing beats a piece of work that you can tangibly hold in your hand or hang on your wall. The designs of these calendars come from imagery and typography that I created mostly by hand. And the designs have been structured to work as screen prints. So it just makes sense for the final product to be a physical print that can properly represent the hand made quality of the design.

C: What's your process like? How long does each calendar usually take?

H: I usually start the process by late-summer and try to release them in November. It could take less time, but I have other stuff going on. I start with a bit of a loose theme and then play with the style of lettering that I want to explore through quick sketches. From there I'll create a more final larger scale sketch, at the size of the final print so that I can judge whether it will look good or not. Then I'll digitize the design and prepare it for screen printing. I typically do all of the print making at home, which can get kind of messy, but it makes the process faster for me. Then I share it with the world!

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C: How did you arrive at 2017's design?

H: In past years I've created unique typographic treatments for each month. It was a way to experiment with new styles and design techniques in a single print. This year, I wanted to take a different approach and create a more cohesive composition. As the concept evolved it started to make sense for all the months to be in the same style and intertwined. The background lettering and lines are meant to convey uneasiness and swirl but the top layer of bold numbers represents strength and fortitude. The interplay between these two layers, in my eyes, will be a reflection of the rollercoaster of events that will take place over the next year...

C: What are some new skills you had to learn to undertake this kind of project?

H: I definitely needed to stretch my hand lettering skills, which was something I wanted to work on anyway. Also when I started these projects I was pretty inexperience with screen printing. After forcing myself to learn and refine the process, and failing a bunch, I actually got pretty efficient at it. But there is always room for improvement.

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C: You donate proceeds from this project to non-profits. Which ones and why?

H: I'll be donating to the ACLU and 350.org. These organizations focus on two key issues that I think will be more vulnerable in the near future. The ACLU is an advocate for the civil rights of all Americans including voting rights and 350.org is a mouthpiece and organizer for all issues involving climate change.

C: General thoughts on space and time?

H: Throughout my career I've always made an effort to carve out time to pursue side-projects. Creating work outside of work is always very gratifying and worth the nights and weekends. Plus you get to be your own client!