12.19.14 / Weekend Heller: Closing In On 2015-2026


Purgatory Pie Press has issued its annual typographic letterpress 2015 datebook. I asked Esther K. Smith, who along with partner Dikko Faust, produces the books, what differentiates this from past years.


Why is the calendar dated 2015–2026?
The calendar dates/days of the week pattern repeats every few years. 2026 is the next time this one appears—so people should get two copies and be prepared for the future. Every 28 years, the whole cycle of calendars repeats—but in between, non-leap years repeat in six and 11 year intervals. The last time this year appeared was 2009. 2015 Past Present Future is chunkier with more room to write—we made an abstract broken grid.

And the sea chart paper that we love is in spreads between every week.

What’s the typeface for this year?
Dikko hand-set a metal typeface, Agency Gothic Open, that was damaged when a summer intern dropped it—I chose a pale yellow/black shade for that face so that the chips and mars are not so obvious—but as someone who saw it said, imperfections are interesting in these days of virtual perfection (and we designed around the bumps and scratches).

After dropping that tray of new-used type, the intern said “I PIED SOME TYPE!” and then said, “why isn’t anyone talking to me?” We could not talk, we were too sad/shocked/appalled—and did not have anything nice to say. Dikko made the grid from a variety of different type rule—and we used the same yellow/black—but the almost black shade—for those lines.

What’s with the maps?
We have been printing on reused decommissioned sea charts for a few years now. This time, we decided to print on the backs—to make it easy to use this book as a journal/sketchbook datebook—and have random map spreads alternating between the weeks for people to use for notes or collage or drawings or just to read and enjoy.

We are stitching into leather—long stitch—a pre-printing binding that was used for log books and stationery—because it opens flat—meant for writing more than for reading.

What is your goal?
I have loved working with the calendar as an ancient version of infographics. People have said we should be printing Shakespeare—something worthy of our process. But I think the ordinary calendar is as sacred as anything. And it’s fascinating to hold a new year or an old year in your hand.

When I open the datebooks I have used over the years, I can turn to a page and once I decode my handwriting I remember that day—so these datebooks become my autobiography.

PPP15.1 PPP15.3 PPP15.5 PPP15.7 PPP15.8unnamedGet datebooks and other Purgatory Pie Press limited editions at:

Purgatory Pie Press Holiday Sale & Open Studio
Sunday Dec. 21
Purgatory Pie Press
19 Hudson St #403
NYC 10013
They are also open by appt when the elevator is running: (esther@purgatorypiepress.com for appt). Or send a check for $115 + $5 shipping.


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December 18

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December 17

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Previously on heller goes here


• New Design Competition: Print’s Typography and Lettering Awards

• Handlettering Gymnastics

• Greeting Card Design



is the co-founder and the co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts. He writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review and the Graphic Content blog for T-Style. He is the author, coauthor, and/or editor of more than 120 books on design and popular culture, including the recent book Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig (Chronicle).