Seasonal spirits

This year’s Trickett & Webb calendar takes cocktails as its inspiration. Nicky Churchill is moved by its spirit

Spirit Level is the 18th calendar by graphics group Trickett & Webb, and comes complete with a cocktail stirrer and recipes for 13 cocktails. As before, it is produced in conjunction with printer Augustus Martin with contributions from 13 illustrators.

Each year, the consultancy dreams up a theme for its calendar. For 1998, the inspiration is cocktails. The choice is made early in the previous year, although nothing really gets under way until the spring. “We suddenly get into crisis mode around April/May,” says director Lynn Trickett, “and then it really starts to happen.”

Timing is always an important factor in producing any calendar although there is probably more leeway if you are your own client. T&W has a neat trick to ensure the calendar lasts for a full 12 months – which is simply to add an extra page for the following January. Hence the 13 cocktail recipes.

Choosing the illustrators is difficult, says Trickett: “We’ve got a core of carry-overs and we always try to include a few new ones, but it’s really hard to choose. We reckon we’ve probably got enough to do 52 pages by now.”

Choosing the cocktail names was not so difficult. “We came up with a list and then let the illustrators choose for themselves,” she says. The results are varied and colourful with artwork arriving complete with colour separations ready for screenprinting. “Very few people work with screenprint any more,” says Trickett, “so we have to be careful that the illustrators can cope with it. It is now becoming so refined that you can produce small type and textures, and there is a great density of colour which you just can’t get with litho printing.”

For the cover, T&W has sourced an American plastic material with an optical 3D effect. The shape of the cocktail glass is welded into the material and a cocktail stirrer is embedded in the plastic. The recipes for the cocktails appear on the credits page, alongside olives, cherries and cocktail shakers. These also feature on the desktop version, which is a week to a page.

The T&W/Augustus Martin calendar is a research and development process which includes the printers, illustrators and T&W. “We all experiment really,” says Trickett. “This year, we wanted it to have a sort of bookish format and we had not done it before.” It will hang from two holes and have a plastic spiral binding – “like a drinking straw”.

The wall-hanging and desktop version of Spirit Level will have a topical (and spirited) launch on 20 January 1998.

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