Interview: Raissa Pardini and Pooneh Ghana Collaborate on Beautiful 2021 Calendar

During the absolute mess that was 2020, two of our favourite artists were working away on a project to brighten up the new year. Photographer, Pooneh Ghana and Designer, Raissa Pardini have collaborated on a 2021 music-themed calendar combining Pooneh’s beautiful polaroids, carefully selected from her collection and Raissa’s layouts which go far beyond the standard calendar board. We looked to find out more about the project…

Please tell us a little about how this project came together…

Raissa: I always wanted to design a calendar from scratch. What I was interested in was to re-design the actual calendar board too which is something most calendars don’t do. Given that 2020 has been a very unfortunate year for music, me and Pooneh talked about celebrating music on stage and artists for a special 2021 calendar. I see it as a positive message for the year to come! Hopefully we’ll get together at gigs very soon.

Why did you decide to go with polaroids for the project?

Pooneh: There were definitely a few ideas floating around in my head as to what photos were right for this project. It was exciting, but also kind of daunting when there’s a decade of archives to work with, haha. From the beginning though, Polaroids and shooting on that medium has been such an important part of my entire photography career, professionally and personally. When I was in high school going to shows in Austin/discovering my love for photography and music, I would always geek out and try to meet the band after the show and snap a Polaroid if they were down. I got my first photo job because a publication found some of my band Polaroids on Flickr (the Instagram of the mid 2000s), back when I was just uploading for fun. I think what I’ve always loved about Polaroids, and maybe what other people love as well, is how it can instantly make a moment feel deeply intimate, whether it’s looking at the photo or shooting on one of the cameras. It’s kind of magical and also, it’s just a beautiful film stock. Pretty hard to replicate the colors and (to be totally cheesy) the feeling a Polaroid gives you when you look at it. So when we were brainstorming ideas for the calendar and as I was revisiting harddrives/digging out more Polaroids, the idea just fell into place naturally. The Polaroids in my archive truly capture some of my funnest and fondest moments as a music photographer, and these are 12 of those moments.

How did you choose the musicians to feature in the calendar?

Pooneh: It was tough to narrow down for sure. I put a folder together of about a couple dozen personal favourites, then Raissa made some rough mockups of the design and we brainstormed/narrowed it down from there. Then we reached out to the artists featured and to our absolute joy, everyone was down. We are of course so, so grateful and deeply love/admire everyone included in the calendar as artists, humans, and friends.

The graphic design and photography combine so well together, what was the biggest challenge in curating this project?

Raissa: I think I can speak for both of us in saying that selecting photos was a real struggle as Pooneh’s pictures are just great. But a year has only 12 months and we had to start from somewhere. Once the photos were picked, I started putting them into a layout and look at the colours. Polaroids always tend to have warm, cosy colours and I wanted that element to be consistent in the design. It was challenging to put together a work we could be very proud of, given the amazing artists we are featuring. Collaborating together definitely pushed us to work even harder on the calendar and create something we are very happy with! In terms of design, it was very challenging to have a functional space for the month calendar boards but very fun at the same time. We both love music so much and it means the world to us. That’s why the colours are so positive and vibrant. We wanted to look at gigs with a smile on our face and try to create a product that could somehow be created around that feeling of joy.

Pooneh: Luckily, outside of a slight shipping delay last month (perfect storm of Covid and the holidays), things have been quite smooth overall! As far as creative challenges, I would say maybe narrowing down the Polaroids to 12, then getting the flow of the images (along with the colour scheme) right from page to page. Raissa is an absolute genius though and nailed it. Definitely had to wipe some tears away when she sent me the final draft, haha. There were of course other boring logistical stuff that we needed to figure out with setting up the shop, payments, etc. But again, luckily it’s been great and we’ve been able to balance the work out really well from two different countries/get shit done!

Are there any funny stories behind the circumstances some of the photos were taken in?

Pooneh: The Courtney Barnett Polaroid was definitely a fun/spontaneous little moment at Pitchfork Fest a couple of years ago. There’s this community gymnasium backstage at the fest that’s typically used as a work area for the Pitchfork production/media team. Our photo team would arrange shoots back there and on this particular day, Courtney and I linked up to snap a few photos. This room inside the gym was just a large storage area that had a bunch of odd sports equipment, tools, toys, old kitchen we decided to make our way in there and play around!

How were you both affected creatively by the first lockdown?

Raissa: We’ve been lucky as we’ve been busy during lockdown. It felt very strange to take a break from live music though as both of our worlds spin around live music, releases, bands on tour, tour diaries, tour posters. I personally focussed more on animation, helping bands to create videos to promote their music. 2020 has been a tough year for everyone and creativity doesn’t always come your way so easily when the inspirations from a daily routine are taken away from us. I think we’ll all have a little cry next time we’ll attend a gig. I’ll definitely bring some tissues with me : )

Do you have any plans to collaborate together again in the future?

Pooneh: WE FUCKING HOPE SO!!! It’s just a matter a joining heads again after this project and seeing what the next exciting idea is.

The calendar is available to buy here.

Photos by Pooneh Ghana
Design by Raissa Pardini
Square 21cm stapled calendar in full colours

– Leon Bridges
– Angel Olsen
– Grian Chatten (Fontaines D.C.)
– Courtney Barnett
– Mac DeMarco
– Sunflower Bean
– Tim Presley (White Fence)
– Dani and Meredith Miller (Surfbort)
– Yannis Philippakis (Foals)
– Jake Hirshland (Post Animal)
– Chris Baio and Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend)
– Dave Bayley (Glass Animals)

10% donated to Red River Cultural District Banding Together Fund
10% donated to Music Minds Matter UK

The new issue of So Young is out now. Its sold out in print but you can read the digital edition below.