Anja Savic – Founder & Creative Director of The Letterist – has a talent for creating truly stunning paper works that make our heart flutter. We can’t help but fall in love with the creative’s beautifully minimal and exclusive stationery that captures her “Love on paper”. Serbian-born, Zambian-raised, New York and London-educated, and currently Belgrade-based Savic designs custom-made personal stationery, wedding invitations, and visual identity concepts for clients across the world, as well as her own personal projects, that include the beloved yearly The Letterist Calendar.
The Calendar, which we’ve previously written about here, is an artfully designed, letterpressed desk calendar that anyone appreciating great design and paper, would love to own. The calendar comes with a transparent stand that showcases the design like an art object like it truly is, while the calendar itself utilizes some of the most beautiful design papers from Europapier’s Design Papers Collection. Each year The Letterist Calendar has a new, fresh look, and this year’s beautifully muted shades – soft ivory, cool grey, sienna, and ombre – create a true beauty!
The Letterist Calendar 2023 is inspired by the changing seasons of nature while utilizing some of the most beautiful design papers from our Design Papers collection.
Pur Coton Absinthe for Winter, Esprit de Nature Sienne for Spring, Pur Coton Smoke for Summer, Esprit de Nature Ombre for Autumn – and Neobond Grey & Black for the packaging bands.
Where did the inspiration for the design come from and how did you choose the papers you did?
“I wanted to use four colors for this year’s edition that would reflect the changing seasons, but not in any literal or obvious way. As we all move toward more environmentally conscious and sustainable forms of living and creating, the question of what nature is, and how it might be visually represented, has really been on my mind this year.
All too often lately, have I seen clients and brands presuming that in order to convey a product is natural or sustainable, the packaging has to be green or brown. Yes, the grass is green, and leaves may be green, and the earth or soil may be brown. But nature is so much more than that. It is also stone and desert and fog and mist and beautifully fluid and fascinating shades of beige and brown and grey. It is whatever the light makes it at any particular moment of the day (and night!) and so I wanted this calendar to be that. Like nature herself, soothing, intriguing, light, dark, a forever wonderland of dawns and dusks. Pur Coton Absinthe & Smoke have become our go-to favorites for almost everything we do, but when I read more about the naturally pigmented Esprit de Nature Sienne & Ombre papers, they had to be part of the stack.”
I wanted this calendar to be that. Like nature herself, soothing, intriguing, light, dark, a forever wonderland of dawns and dusks. Pur Coton Absinthe & Smoke have become our go-to favorites for almost everything we do, but when I read more about the naturally pigmented Esprit de Nature Sienne & Ombre papers, they had to be part of the stack.
The calendar is presented on a transparent taupe acrylic stand, whereas the calendar months are wrapped with a band made of Neobond Grey & Black 200 gsm, enabling to create of sturdy, flexible, water- and tear-proof bands in unique, subtle shades of greenish-grey with which The Letterist likes to package all their products.
Exceptionally well-designed, the calendar combines blind debossing and screen printing – as well as quotes by the greatest artists, designers, poets, and thinkers in gold foil – to create a beautiful experience well beyond what a traditional calendar offers.
“The months are blind debossed, the dates are screen-printed, and the quotes and authors’ names are foil stamped in gold. The quotes are almost purposefully small, and depending on the angle of the light that falls on them, can be difficult to read. I wanted them this way precisely so people would pick up the page each month, look closer, find the light, read the quote, think about it, and let it speak to them. The quotes are a quintessential part of this calendar and my attempt to turn something that is a simple and functional desk accessory, into an inspiring and thought-provoking experience.
The quotes are a quintessential part of this calendar and my attempt to turn something that is a simple and functional desk accessory, into an inspiring and thought-provoking experience.
I spend many weeks and months researching and curating the quotes that most move me…in the hope that they will also leave an impression on the people who end up having them on their desks. And that somewhere between your morning coffee and your afternoon meeting, a little sliver of poetry, philosophy, or beautiful wisdom may sneak into your plans.”
The production of such a calendar is no easy task to accomplish. How do you work around the challenges, and know when to make compromises and when not?
“I have been making calendars since 2014 and spent four years listening to printers around the world tell me I’d be nuts to print a letterpress calendar. (But it’s 12 months! But you can’t reuse the plates! But it will be expensive!) In 2019 I finally decided to ignore all the skeptics and print our first letterpress edition. We decided to keep the months blind debossed so we could reuse those plates each year, screen-printed the changing dates to avoid continually making new plates, and added some quotes in gold foil to give them a special touch. This is the fourth year we are doing it this way…but our next edition for 2024 will also be the year The Letterist celebrates its 10th anniversary, so we are masterminding something a little different to mark that occasion.”
And where did the original idea to create such a calendar come from?
“The calendar is one of the first products I introduced when I started The Letterist in 2014. I had spent many years working in corporate marketing and had seen a few thousand gaudy corporate calendars come across my desk. I had worked in advertising agencies and lived through the torturous November and December months of designing and printing branded calendars for our clients with little intention, creativity, budget, or time. They were always high-volume, low-budget, and last-minute projects aimed at just having something to give away for free before the holidays. I always wondered what a calendar could be if a little more time, design thinking, and printing expertise went into it. After all, it’s something that will sit on your desk every day for a whole year. Shouldn’t it be beautiful? Can’t it be?
I always wondered what a calendar could be if a little more time, design thinking, and printing expertise went into it. After all, it’s something that will sit on your desk every day for a whole year. Shouldn’t it be beautiful? Can’t it be?
How many months in advance do you have to begin working on a new calendar? And how big is the production capacity?
“I usually send our calendar to print in August and then skip off to the beach for a few weeks so it’s ready and waiting upon my return. But I am always thinking about it, collecting quotes, exploring color palette options, and new ideas for printing, stands, and packaging. Next year we hope to introduce a wholesale program where clients can order larger quantities to use as part of their holiday gifting, so we may need to get started a little earlier, and if we get the orders I’m hoping we will…the beach may just have to wait.
We are this year, for the first time, thanks to our growing team and capacity, shipping worldwide – and it has been exciting to receive orders from destinations as far as Brazil, Cape Town, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. We have usually done small runs of under 500 but I hope that number – together with our team and ideas – will soon grow.”