Saturday, 1 February 2020


“Music is my beach house, music is my home town
Music is my king size bed, music’s where I meet my friends.”
— Cansei de Ser Sexy

Following last year’s calendar about something I find most challenging, I decided to theme this edition around something I adore, find freedom in and lean on when things get real - music.

I almost gave up multiple times on being able to make anything calendar-shaped for 2020. After 5 years of producing these you'd think it may have gotten easier, but 2019 was my greatest challenge yet. I didn't want to give up, so instead kept finding ways to still make the calendar happen despite my critical lack of energy at the end of last year, soundtracking one of the busiest times of my life as we closed Impact Hub Birmingham.

First, I decided to print it myself - simple black ink on a coloured stock. I ordered the paper. I salvaged clipboards from Impact Hub Birmingham to hold them together as the coloured coil binding of past editions (as much as I adore it) has always been a pricey, time consuming, hard-to-acquire aspect that slows down my always-limited-time production, plus I wanted to do something personal to re-gift these special clipboards.

Despite not having completed any illustrations for the projcet, nor having all the facts sourced, I intentionally took recovery time over Christmas to spend time with my family, friends, partner and myself, completely away from my laptop and desk. I read books, played board games, and actually went to bed at night, which was a lovely swap from the usual calendarmageddon December signals. This was so worthwhile, and it allowed the anxiety and growth from the year to settle. I felt like I could breathe better for the first time in years.

Starting as slow as I dared in January and catching up on so much fallout from last year (the Brum Zine Fest crowdfunder, funding follow-ups and more), it was midway through the month and I still had no drawings. Fuck. Was I going to be bold enough to own this, or shrink away embarrassed muttering something about burnout?

I kept asking myself the question: how can I still do the calendar? what needs to shift to make it possible? trying to take in each evolving reality rather than beat myself up for any reason for being in that position or experiencing deep-set drawing block. I'd been reading the One Red Paperclip book by Kyle MacDonald, who's embrace for his own off-beatness and sense of fun really made me smile. It helped me decide there's no reason a calendar can't start in February and I can just own that. I was also running out of time and only had 20 clipboards, so I decided to make a UK Top 20 set of printed editions for key people and, inspired by One Red Paperclip, realised that if my goal was to connect people to my work and share the joy of these weird and wonderful music facts, I could, in addition to the small run of printed copies, make the calendar available for people to download and print themselves; to remix and share as they liked; drawing natural parallels with how music travels*.

This would also mean I could do it one month at a time, and the calendar could accumulate across the year, spreading out the labour to be more manageable. So, that's what I made. I made a February page of a 2020 calendar for you to download and enjoy for free, in print or on your desktop, and will share files each month.

Greatest Hits: February Goodies

Full A4 .pdf  for Greatest Hits calendar cover: [download]
Full A4 .pdf for February's calendar page: [download]
Full screen (1600 x 1200) February background: [download]
Widescreen (1920 x 1080) February background: [download]

If you enjoy them you can let me know using the @bynginc tag, and also report any dead links or stuff that doesn't work too to make sure they're useful to anyone who'd like to make use of them.

As with the original Byng Inc. calendar featuring some of the most mundane happenings in Wikipedia’s notable event listings, with "Greatest Hits" I wanted to crowdsurf across the irony of a musician’s Greatest Hits album being arguably one of their worst records; the obvious hits, disconnected from one another, with none of their original context, relevance or nuance. In many ways, this is my worst calendar yet. It starts a month late, and, like a Greatest Hits collection, it needs compiling. But it also seeks to celebrate what we achieve over time, no matter how popular, niche or underground it may be.

And this month's illustrated fact feels so apt because you can basically consider this a Left Shark kindof calendar, as described perfectly by Wikipedia: Left Shark, on house left (Perry’s right) received significant fan and media attention during and after the halftime performance because of their distinct dance moves, which were both offbeat and out of sync to the “Right Shark”.

'Offbeat and out of sync'. Yep, that is definitely the vibe.

Shrew you rhythmic "Right Shark" of convention. It's offbeat, iconic Left Shark energy all the way for me this year.

*Please consider: The contents of this calendar can be reproduced and remixed at will for personal or educational use, but rights remain with the artist Louise Byng. As will all musicians and visual artists, please credit where appropriate and link to original sources. Selling any element of this edition for profit is not permitted.

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