Dirty Bandits Turns a Decade's Long Project into a Career
This past winter, like every winter for the last ten years, Annica Lydenberg of Dirty Bandits released her Calendar of Silly Holidays. Every month gets its own holiday. March has Pencil Day on the 30th. May 19th is National Pizza Party Day. July 14th is Cow Appreciation Day. A collection of 12 cards come in per pack of holidays, each illustrated with digital lettering, but even though she makes each of the illustrations from scratch she’s not inventing the holidays. They’re all completely real. “Every year I have to research a lot,” she says with a laugh. Ten years in she has to find holidays that are more and more obscure – she doesn’t want to double dip.
The calendar started as the very first lettering project that she ever did, but this single project has helped shape the entire trajectory of her career. She’s used it as a tool to explore artistically, and as a calling card to remind the industry that she’s out there working and of all the different skills she has. “I send this out to potential clients and, it was actually how I ended up getting involved with B&A,” she explains. It took sending a B&A agent her calendar for four years, but eventually the work followed and now she’s a part of the roster here.
“It’s always a chance to practice different styles to show off something that I want to be hired for something more,” she explains. “Early on in lettering it was a great way to experiment because each holiday requires totally different illustration and I can use a different style of lettering and then one year I wanted more chalk jobs so I made the entire calendar in chalk and that worked great. People would see it on their desk every month and be like ‘Oh yeah! Annica does that!’”
After this year Annica has decided to retire the Calendar, so she’s now looking for another calling card to make her own. In the meantime she’s using her skills for a new ongoing project: political activism. “I appreciate that people can post on their Facebook wall but that I could actually post on an actual wall. And that to me was a really interesting,” she says. “I really enjoy taking what I learn from what other people are sharing that really speaks to me that grabs me, and then turning it back in a new way for a new audience.” She taken her skills to paint messages on walls, design tee-shirts, and even paint signs that found their way to the Women’s March on DC in January.
“My goal is not to criticize anyone who supports a particular politician or anything like that. My goal is to make the people that are being marginalized feel supported,” she explains. “I’m doing this project to help the people who are scared feel less alone.”