Calender 2020: Seasonal flower illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

As in the two previous years, I again designed a calender for 2020. The calender shows seasonal flower illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 –1840), who is considered one of the greatest botanical illustrators of all time.

The calender is freely downloadable as a pdf file and printable (for private use) on standard DIN A4 paper. It is available in three versions:

A good way of hanging the printed pages with standard office equipment is to use a (small white) binder clip (see example picture below). Magnets and pins also work of course. It’s also possible to only print indvidual pages out as they are needed over the year.

Here a preview of all calender pages:

And here an impression of how it looks with a binder clip on the wall:

For those who are interested, here some further background information on the making of this calender. With this design I continue to explore aesthetics I had already taken up in my previous calender designs. For 2018 I had created a calender combining (not very functional) Swiss-inspired typography and Japanese-inspired nature photography. For 2019 I had designed a minimalist functional calender inspired by Bauhaus watches. With the new 2020 design I tried to create a minimalist calender that was both functional and served decorative purposes. It combines Bauhaus/Swiss-inspired typography with natural aesthetics.

Normally I don’t enjoy looking at flowers very much, because in Europe they tend to be presented in the form of lush colorful bouquets and flowerbeds. But I do like it when singular or only few flowers are shown. In this presentation form the beauty does not only lie in the colorful blossoms, but in the entire form of the plant with blossoms, leaves, and stems. This way of presenting flowers can also be seen in the flower arrangements of Japanese Ikebana, and similarly in Japanese Bonsai. Similarly, the botanical illustrations of Pierre-Joseph Redouté show plants in a very lifelike, organically composed way.

For each month an illustration of a flower was selected that (approximately) blooms in that month. I didn’t want to select the „most beautiful“ plants, but those typically seen in gardens, fields, and woods in Germany over the year. Many of Redoutés illustrations are more beautiful than the subset I selected here. I had to make some trade-offs because I could not find all flowers I had on my initial list, especially the rarer fall and winter flowers.

The largest part of illustrations I found via the site Plantillustrations.org. The site links to scanned books from where I downloaded the individual pages. Getting the yellowed, faded and spotted images into a clean shape turned out to be more time-consuming than I thought. This making-of article by Nicolas Rougeaux contains some helpful tips on restoring old botanical illustrations. I ended up spending many hours with gimp, making heavy use of the fuzzy select (magic wand) tool, eraser, masking, automatic white correction and further color correction tools. The results are far from perfect but I’m still proud that my restored images look more balanced than what is commonly available on the internet (compare these Redouté images on rawpixel for example).

In the form of small selfmade icons (matching the „o“ in the used font), I added information on lunar and sun phases, which nicely fits the natural and seasonal theme. The font used is the open source font Spartan MB by Matt Bailey. Layouting was done with the open source desktop publishing software Scribus.