"So what are you waiting for? Your money's going to be no good in a year anyway. Buy this calendar," proclaims the Kickstarter video promoting "The Apocalypse Calendar," a new calendar that "pre-commemorates" the Mayan-predicted end of days: December 21, 2012.
If you buy the Mayans' argument, we know when it'll happen, but we don't know how. Zombies? "Contagion"-style global virus? Furby invasion? The calendar, created by Chicago-based graphic designer Thomas Quinn, features 12 artists, many of them local, offering their takes on what the allegedly impending apocalypse might look like.
Further, the 11-by-17-inch calendar features a daily list of noteworthy achievements of the human race, in addition to birthdays of "the greatest humans ever to roam the planet," even including yourself -- if you pledge $500 or more to the project's Kickstarter campaign. Because printing is not cheap, Quinn is hoping that fans of the calendar will help offset its tremendous startup costs. In return, supporters can receive other rewards such as full-size prints of the featured art or, with a contribution of $50 or more, a signed copy of the calendar.
Continuing our "Can They Kick It?" series, HuffPost Chicago interviewed Quinn about his prophetic endeavor.
First of all, what attracted you to the apocalypse as the theme of this calendar? Have you been watching a lot of History Channel? How did the idea come to be?
I've always had a fascination with disaster movies, which usually come in the form of movies about the end of the world. If there is a movie that shows cities being destroyed, I will likely see it, whether it is good ("28 Days Later") or bad ("2012"). I think that fascination lead to an interest in doing my own project about disasters on Earth.
After working a few different design jobs in Chicago for the last seven years, I switched to working freelance early in 2011 with the idea that it would free me up to work on self-driven projects. I had the idea for the calendar around the same time, so it worked out pretty well.
How long has this project been in development? Tell me a bit about the process.
At the start of 2011, I began mentioning it to a few friends to see what they thought of it. Everyone reacted enthusiastically, so I started contacting some of my artist friends that I wanted to be involved to see if they were interested. Every artist I contacted in the beginning loved the idea, so I established the basic size and gave them deadlines.
One of my closest friends is a comic artist named Ryan Browne. We were roommates in college and he now lives just a few blocks away from me in the Bucktown/Logan Square area. He helped me finalize the roster with some talented Chicago comic artists he knows, some well established and others up-and-coming. I knew I wanted to use Kickstarter from the beginning, so once everyone started turning in their artwork, I enlisted Patrick Shaffner from 826CHI to be the star of the video since he has a charisma that I thought would keep a potential buyer's interest. Launching it on Kickstarter was a pretty easy process, so now we're just trying to use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word.
(Scroll down to preview some the art included in "The Apocalypse Calendar.")
How did you choose the 12 artists that you reached out to illustrate the calendar? Are most of them also Chicago-based artists?
All of the artists are either friends of mine from the Rhode Island School of Design, or they are local Chicago comic artists. The one exception is Jay Ryan, whom I've known for about 13 or 14 years, dating back to when I had a band that used to play with his band Dianogah. I also tried to pick artists that had a variety of styles, but more importantly, a sense of humor in their art. Eight of the twelve artists live in or around Chicago.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've run into in turning this calendar into a reality so far? On the flip side, what about those "a ha," totally worthwhile moments?
The biggest challenge was planning my own image. I'm a designer amongst a bunch of really talented illustrators, so I had to really try my best to come up with something that could be on the same level as everyone else's art. I also had about 20 different ideas for my image, so it was difficult figuring out a way to incorporate all of those ideas into on image.
As far as the "aha" moments, it's been incredibly rewarding seeing what all of the other artists have come up with. I gave them all 100 percent creative freedom, so in most cases I didn't see anything until I was given the finished art, which has been fun.
It seems like the Kickstarter campaign is going quite well, even getting several $100+ backers -- are you optimistic you'll meet your goal?
This is my first Kickstarter project, but I've backed a couple things before, so I felt like I had a good idea of what works and what doesn't. I am optimistic that we'll meet our goal. I've been waiting until the last few images come in to really start promoting it hard. Also, Jay Ryan has a pretty devoted following, so I'm hoping when his art is finished it will provide a good spark.
What has been your principal "selling point" that you're trying to drive home to folks considering supporting the Kickstarter?
I think the selling point is just the calendar itself. I'm hoping that the idea is interesting enough, and the art is good enough that people will want to put it on their wall. Most calendars are have pretty boring imagery. After 6 days of looking at it, a "Cute Corgis" calendar gets a little dull. These are actual original works of art people will have on their wall. We've also played into that a bit by offering frame-worthy art prints at a higher pledge level.
How and when can folks buy the calendar itself?
The campaign ends on Halloween, and we'll likely be printing the first half of November. It should be finished and ready to ship at the beginning of December. For people who are getting autographed calendars it may take a little bit longer, but they should definitely be in buyers' hands by the time January rolls around.
What do you think it is about rumors of the apocalypse that garners so much attention and speculation?
I think people have an obsession with mortality, which is why there are so many horror movies. I think the apocalypse is like a big horror movie rooted in reality. Then there is a countdown aspect to it, and it is such a grand scale, it's like Halloween combined with New Years Eve times a million.
Do you buy into the hype at all or are you approaching this with more of a sense of humor?
I am not a superstitious person, I am a scientific person, so until there is some scientific basis for an apocalypse prediction I won't be buying into it. The Mayans made their calendar over 5,000 years ago and gave no reasoning or basis for it whatsoever. I don't think anyone is really truly buying into it, it's just an excuse to get worked up about something, so I wanted to have fun with that in making this calendar. The calendar is definitely intended to have a sense of humor. I think that is the only way it would work, because nobody wants to look at a dreary image for a full month. I made sure to encourage all of the artists to have fun with it, and I think that really comes through in the final art.
With 17 days to go as of Friday, "The Apocalypse Calendar" Kickstarter has funded nearly one-third of its goal. Click here to help them get the rest of the way or here to learn more about the calendar itself.
All photos appear courtesy of Thomas Quinn and "The Apocalypse Calendar."
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