road trip calendar

To go with the release of the pre-order I was asked to talk about this project from my point of view, and reflect on it now that I’m finished. There are a million things to say, and a million ways to start this post. But overall I think the perfect one is this:

This has been the best year of my life. 

Bold words coming from a gal who has handled eagles, lived in Africa, and become a full-time paid artist, among many other fun and cool things. But there was something about all of the different elements of this project that came together and allowed me to have the most magical year ever. And I’m excited to share some of my favorite moments with you here.

So here you go, in no particular order, the reasons this year was amazing:

1) Succeeding at a Kickstarter, and the subsequent pride I feel

Kickstarter is a wonderful, magical thing. To allow people to support art and creativity is genius. And there’s something extremely gratifying about taking a zany idea, fleshing it out, and then putting it out into the world to flap its little wings and hope that people will want to join it on its journey. Thankfully for me, people did. And for those of you who supported it, thank you. You have no idea how much your contributions, small and large, have meant to this simple artist girl from Pittsburgh. My life has changed for the better this year, and that’s thanks to you.

2) Traveling like I’ve never traveled before

I am a well-seasoned traveler. I have lived in SLC, UT and overseas, and have done many a cross-country road trip (I think at least half a dozen prior to this year, depending on where you count as the final destination). But this year I got to do THREE. Three road trips out west, two all the way to the Pacific and one as far west as the Rockies. I also got to loop up through New England a few times too. I put around 36,000 on my car from these trips this year (go Honda!), and it’s definitely worse for wear after all the scrapes, dings and dangly bits. But I don’t regret it one bit. I love to travel. It is in my blood and makes my heart sing. And getting to do it for art, for charity, took it to another level altogether. People have been saying to me now that I’m done, “Aren’t you glad to be home? I don’t know how you do it!” I do it because I must do it. Traveling feeds my soul, and this year my soul’s cup overfloweth.

3) Challenging myself

This one might not seem like that big of a deal, but the whole idea of this project came about initially because I wasn’t getting enough of a creative fix in my regular photography work. Putting this thing together was quite the undertaking, between scheduling, budgeting, and figuring out logistics. Plus, I was also making the costumes in addition to shooting the photos. I wanted something that pushed my comfort zones as an artist, and I accomplished it. There were moments of stress of course, but overall I felt nothing but sheer joy every time I finished a costume and dressed up the duct tape busts to really see it completed, and then again when the perfect props and locations came together in photographic harmony.

My sister playing with sparklers on the beach after Tad's shoot.
My sister playing with sparklers on the beach after Tad’s shoot.

4) Authors out the wazoo!

This really is the hgh vitamins heart of this post. I got to spend time this year with fourteen of the world’s most creative minds, and I’m better for it. The memories and experiences I have from meeting these wonderful, lovely, extraordinary people are ones I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I was able to get some insight into their lives, how they live and work, how they create the art we all love. And it was just as fabulous as you could imagine.

Here are some of my favorite memories over the span of this project:

  • I talked Harry Dresden over Chinese food with Pat and he let me borrow his personal CD collection to experience the books first hand.
  • I set off fireworks on the beach with Tad, his wife Deb, and their son, with Tad running around lighting them still in costume.
  • I shared coffee with Lauren Oliver on the front porch of her new home, enjoying the peace of the morning while we talked life, men, art, and creating.
  • I tried not to drown in the amazing collective energy of the Merry Fates as they invaded my hotel room and hung out during their fitting.
  • I sat on New York City steps with Christopher and talked vultures and bones, and got to watch him experience a vulture on the glove for the first time and feel the vulture love (they’re my favorite birds).
  • I watched the harvest moon rise over flooded salt flats with Brandon Sanderson.
  • I went on a mini-road trip to the photo location with Holly, discussing writing, art, and life in general the whole time. Plus I got to see first hand the hidden door and office in her home.
  • I got to photograph Brandon Mull in one of the most stunning photo locations I’ve ever been in: a mountain field filled to the brim with wildflowers, with a modern-day gypsy caravan behind him, and my friend’s chicken hanging out beside him for good measure.
  • I soaked up the amazing art Gregory’s home, especially in his office, and it was awesome having him walk me around and tell me their stories.
  • I hung out in Gail’s brand new gorgeous office, and we chatted corsets and jewelry and lots of pretty things.
  • I met Lauren Kate’s new baby, and I got a bit emotional watching her put on her costume, my favorite costume from this project, and have it look stunning on her.
  • I enjoyed soaking up the creative energy at Cassie’s house, where various writing peeps were communing, and talking writing, art, and movies with them.
  • AND, I got my bird nerd fix, getting to hang out with owls, a vulture, an eagle, a chicken (ha!), and, bonus animal, a Siberian Lynx!

Have I laughed, cried, screamed, and smiled? You betcha. And I’m going back for more. I’m going to do it all over again next year (Kickstarter success pending, of course!), and while I’m sure it will be amazing, this year will always hold a special place in my heart. As Gaiman says, “Make good art.” Good art was made, for a good cause, with good people. And I couldn’t be happier. I hope, when you see the final product that is this amazing calendar, you are happy too. Thanks for supporting art and charity. You’ve made my year.

Oh, and PS, just in case you’re new to the party, here’s a link to check out all the photos I’ve released so far. Pop back in, I’ll be releasing a new one every day until they’re all live! :) And you can pre-order the calendar here! 

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  • Sedjwick

    Sounds like this was pretty amazing. I am so jealous of you, and I spent a month in Spain this year! I look forward to seeing the rest of the pictures for this year, and will definitely support next year’s project. Do you have any author’s in mind for next year’s calendar yet?

    • Lauren

      Of course! I have a bunch. But I won’t name any names yet, in case they can’t or won’t do it. Crossing my fingers though!

  • Jasmine

    “To go with the release of the pre-order…”

    Where do we pre-order?! I must be missing it! :)

    • Lauren

      It should be going live on Monday. I’ll link to it in the posts once it’s up!

  • Ben

    Ordered the calendar :) It looks like you did an awesome job with it. Can’t wait to get it. Keep up the good work and always have an enjoyable time doing it.

  • Simon

    Absolutely beautiful photos! I love them! When you get the Kickstarter up for next time, maybe you should send an update about it from this kickstarter project, so that no one of us miss the opportunity to support this again!