Accountability / by Jen Bachelder


Every now and then, I'm reminded that sometimes it's best just to put things out into the universe. There are different reasons for this: You need to express yourself. You can't know for sure if you don't ask. You're looking for your tribe. You need to be held accountable. Today, the day I'm supposed to start working on my 2017 TrashCal, I need to be held accountable.

Big Picture

Each year, I make a calendar using 12 collages I finished that year. The goal is to use found items (trash) to capture each month. Above, January to December, are the feature pieces from the 2015 TrashCal.

The Beginning

I started my first calendar, 2011, in late 2010. It was meant to be a holiday gift for each of my freelance clients from that year. Because of a bulk production discount, I ordered about twice as many as I needed. To my surprise, some folks in my network asked if they could purchase one of my leftover calendars. By New Year's Eve, I had sold as many as I gave away and came out even on cost. It was a small and unexpected win.

A Deadline Missed. Twice.

Unfortunately, the features above are not from 2016. They're not from 2014, either. Twice since that first calendar, I've failed to produce enough works to populate the calendar (specifically, trash-based collages). This is a bummer for a few reasons. Reasons more important than selling calendars.

  1. I've let freelancing take over my schedule, both professionally and personally. Working for myself full time is terrifying, and I let that fear dictate where my time goes. In the last few weeks, I've started really defending my Fridays as time to work on things for me instead of for a client. It's time to walk the walk.
  2. Each calendar is a snapshot of that year in my journey: the decisions I made, the details I fought for, the start-to-finish process. I remember putting each of these together, but it's difficult to see how you're changing over time.
    • Above is the 2013 calendar. I was aiming for a little more simplicity and was hyper aware of cropping the rectangular originals to squares for the printed calendar. Composition was always on my mind.
    • Below is the 2012 calendar. I was experimenting with 3D objects and how to manipulate the light from the scanner (more on why I scan instead of photograph in the near future). The least expected the found object, the better.

I'm calling on you, universe.

July is go time. Putting this thing together at a reasonable and responsible pace would be a game changer. It would mean sharing more of the building process, taking pre-orders before it's do or die, and even having a chance to axe a feature or two if need be (Look, we can't all be perfect all the time.). You might think the pain of folks coming out of the woodwork between November and January asking for their new calendar would do it, but it seems I need another, slightly larger, push. Ready. Set.

P.S. Thanks to those of you that come out of the woodwork between November and January asking for your new calendar. <3


Title Image: Luca Upper via Unsplash

Update: We're up and running. I launched a fresh Kickstarter on Sept. 1 to fund printing 100 2017 TrashCals. The Kickstarter will run until 9/30.