2020 calendar cover

urbanCrittr 2020

This year marks the third year I have made personal-print calendars with the urbanCrittr brand.

This calendar features hand-painted stones.

In late September 2019, artist Linda M. showed me eight stones she had painted in the style of the Mexican Day of the Dead Sugar Skull masks. While many were faces, others were animals, still others, abstracts.

I had been considering a number of image ideas for the 2020 calendar. When I saw Linda’s paintings I thought they would be the ideal choice.

cat in the cupboard
Cat in the Cupboard – March 2020

I preferred characters with faces, and Linda was willing to complete a total of fourteen. This would give me options when deciding on a monthly character and setting.

spoon in flour - july2020
Spoon in Flour – July 2020

Personal Printing Perspectives

In the three years since I began personal printing of calendars, the publishers, ease of use, calendar options, and price points have changed dramatically. Zazzle.ca was the publisher of choice for the 2018 and 2019 calendars. But when it came time to print 2020, I did a more extensive review of publishers.

The online calendar application is essentially the same from all manufactures. The applications offer various backgrounds, clip art, and added text capabilities. The size may vary slightly, the card stock may be lighter or heavier, but quality is fairly consistent.

Therefore, two principle factors influenced my decision-making process. Both are related to cost. First is the amount of discount offered, and the second is shipping fees.

While discounts are offered periodically throughout the year, Black Friday and beyond seems to bring out the larger discounts. It is not unheard of to have short-term discounts in the 80-85% range. Timing the completion of the project to take advantage of these discounts is highly suggested.

The other major aspect in the per unit cost is shipping fees. In some cases it is cheaper to go with a slightly more expensive base price if the shipping is free or a nominal charge.

For example, my 2019 Zazzle calendar at an 80% discount cost $12.04 each. That price included taxes and shipping fees. From placement of order to delivery was about three weeks.

2019 Front Cover
2019 Front Cover

This year for the 2020 calendar, I selected two sources: 1) Staples Copy & Print, and 2) Walmart Photo Centre.
Both online applications were efficient, easy to use and offered flexibility. The Staples model provided for a back cover, Walmart’s did not.

The back cover did have to be modified a bit in order to allow for the Staples logo. It is fixed in place.

Walmart automatically took mini-images of the months and displayed them in three rows, two of five, one of two on the back cover.

The calendars were essentially the same size, 11×8.5 for Staples, 12×9 for Walmart. Staples used a little thicker card-stock but Walmart images appeared slightly sharper. Colour was close to original. Staples images came across a touch darker than supplied. And if using Staples again, I would lighten and add extra sharpening to the images.

Costs and closing comments

Walmart cost per item was $11.26, and they were available for free pickup at the local retail store within ten days.

The Staples calendars were delivered in just over a week and a half, and because the total cost was above $45, delivery was free. The Staples cost per item was $22.59.

For me if came down to cost and ease of delivery. Each publisher printed a quality calendar. I would use any of these or other printers. For this year, Walmart stood out on top for price, quality of images, and ease of ordering.