‘The year we all lived through’: Edmonton graphic designer creates medieval 2020 calendar

EDMONTON — An Edmonton man has decided to reflect back on an eventful 2020 by designing a medieval styled calendar outlining its most memorable events.

The graphic designer said he was inspired to carry on an artistic tradition his grandmother started years ago, where she would draw out the years events, some being personal, others worldly in nature, to mark her anniversary with his grandfather.

“It’s a project I wanted to do ever since I was kid,” said Paul Twa. 

During his time off in early December, he dug into the ambitious project. The calendar which depicts 50 different events that happened across the world over the past year, took him 29 hours to complete according to the iPad program he used to create the piece of art. Twa also spent hours doing research and designed a ‘cheat sheet’ that is located on the back of the art piece, describing in detail the events he chose to illustrate. 

“I spent that week really kind of diving into this with the goal of printing them and then sending them in my Christmas cards. That way, the project sort of had some physicality to it. That it didn’t just live on social media or online. I could give them to friends and family as a sort of keepsake of the year we all lived through,” said Twa. 

When it came to the medieval style of the piece, Twa said he was inspired by his love of art history and books from the middle ages known as the book of hours with include monthly calendar illustrations. 

“I think the events of this year are going to be historical so that’s why I sort of wanted to do an illuminated manuscript style with medieval connotations.” 

Twa said he had to find a balance between including the most important political events and movements of the year such as Black Lives Matter, while still showing the more light-hearted and entertaining moments, like when the show Tiger King reached the height of its popularity in March, one of Twa’s favourite months of the illustration. 

“You just have to say Tiger King and they know exactly the moment in time that we are referring to when we were all sort of mostly in lockdown periods across the world, and experiencing a show to fill our time when all our events were cancelled. 

After receiving positive feedback, he made the 2020 calendar available online. 

As for future projects, Twa said he is already brainstorming a new calendar illustration for 2021, adding that there are other art styles he’d like to explore. The layout will stay the same each year because Twa has synesthesia and the calendar depicts how he visualizes time. It is a tradition he would like to continue, a nod back to the one his grandmother first started.

“What made her project so cool is that she did it every year. Looking back, she has this record of life to look back on.”  

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