As our thoughts and excitement turn toward Phish’s upcoming New Year’s run at MSG, I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Calico Whitelaw Gicewicz to talk about Phish, the School of Phish, and her wonderful graphic designs posted on the SOP community page as a daily countdown to Phish tour.
Calico, a Vermont resident, grew up in the Bay Area and first discovered Phish while attending Montana State University in the early 1990s. In fact, it was during her college years that Phish played MSU on November 28, 1994, part of an intense 50 show Fall Tour, when Calico started to take a real interest. However, Calico would not see her first show until Phish kicked of their European Tour in London on February 13, 1997. Like so many of us, once she saw them she was hooked. From then on Phish went from an interest to a passion for Calico, who continued to to see more and more shows as Phish played their way through the Millennium and then resuming after the hiatus and again in 3.0.
In December 2010, the School of Phish community was created on Facebook. While far from the first forum for Phish fans, School of Phish (SoP) was unique in its mission, a lasting commitment to positivity. As we all know there are more then a few outlets where the good is often buried by the bad. While having a devoted fan base has been a key to Phish’s success, it does not come without regular detractors, certainly from without but even more so from within. Seeing that there was hardly a shortage of negativity among Phish fans, Calico joined SoP, a community dedicated to all things positive about Phish and the community of fans around it, and she quickly became an avid supporter and regular contributor.
While having no formal training or education in art, Calico, an illustrator and designer in her own right, has been immersed in the world of graphic design through her husband and his company, JEG Designs. It was here that Calico’s abilities with Illustrator and Photoshop really began to take off, enabling her to create the designs that many in SoP have come not only to love, but also to anticipate, awaiting the next daily installment of her pre-tour posts.
Showing unlimited creativity while sticking to themes, images and ideas the whole Phish community shares, each post alluding to a particular Phish song in each image. Calico has been able to delight SoP community members with this project that began earlier this year in the Spring as we counted down the days to Summer Tour and has grown to be so popular and well received that her daily banners have returned for the upcoming Holiday Run.
Having only just been introduced to Calico, I was immediately struck by the positivity she exudes and I understood the nature of her connection with SoP and her designs. Every time we go to a show, we find what we bring to it. And as any devoted fan already knows, the sky is hardly a limit to where this thing can take us. After talking to Calico, it is even clearer to me that the more we as a community keep the emphasis on the positive, the richer and more fulfilling our Phish experience is going to be. As the community grows and is filled with energy through Phish’s music, just imagine the good that is possible for us to bring into everything we do in our lives, both within and without Phish.
Like heralds of the shows to come, above is a sampling of some of Calico’s most popular pieces from the the current series as well as a few classics from last summer. When asked if she will make stickers or posters from her art, Calico said “I have been thinking of doing something with some of my designs…so stay tuned.”