Product Review: Ryan McGinness 2023 Calendar To-Do List Pad

I confess that when I was contacted to review the 2023 Calendar To-Do List by Ryan McGinness ($40 available on Amazon),  I squeed just a little bit. Over the years, I’ve accumulated several of McGinness’ art and design books (the most well-known is FLATNESSISGOD).  I did my best to play it cool in our email correspondence, though I suppose now, the cat is out of the bag.

The 2023 Calendar To-Do List Pad was flawlessly packaged in a custom shipping box. The actual calendar came is a black, linen-finish box with silver foil stamping. You all know how I feel about excessive packaging but stay with me because there is a reason for the box so, in this instance, I am 100% okay with it.

Inside the box is a ribbon to make removing the pad easier.

When you lift it up, you can see how chonky this pad is! The pad measures 11.5  x 4.75″ and it’s two inches thick.

Under the cover sheet is details on how to use the box after the pad is removed. It recommends that you save the box and each day, put your completed page back into the box. I recommend putting the pages facedown so at the end of the year, you can flip the whole stack and it will be in order.

Once the year is over, put the lid on the box and store it for posterity. Or have a ritual burning depending on how it all went.

I love that there is a printed, handwritten note inside from the creator explaining that he has, for years, made these calendars for friends, family and his studio. He also explains the size was selected because it is exactly half of a letter-sized sheet of paper when cut lengthwise. It’s easy to imagine that, in the early days, he was printing these pages on his office copy machine and trimming them by hand.

Each page features a graphic illustration in a black circle at the top of the page. The overall design of this chonk of paper is excellent. As a design snob, I 100% approve. Good type design, art, layout and attention to detail.

One of the other big plusses for this pad is that Saturday and Sunday are given the same treatment as the workdays. Because not everyone rests on the weekend.

Did I mention the 2.5mm gird because YES! I love it.

Testing the Paper:

I confess that I entered into testing this paper with a bit of trepidation. The paper felt very lightweight and, like most people outside the fountain pen community, the design and “functionality” of a paper good tends to outweigh the paper performance particularly when compared with how incredible picky “pen people” can be in comparison.

But once I started testing gel, rollerball and ballpoint pens, I realized I had no issues.  Should I try a fountain pen? Will it make me sad?

Nope. No sadness. Fountain pen ink performed just fine. I didn’t drown it in ink but with the teeny tiny 2.5mm grid, some small stubs, fine and extra fine nibs and an italic, it passed with flying colors.

Even the view from the back… some show through but since these pages were designed to be used front side dominantly, I don’t think that’s a big deal. Of course, if you want live dangerously, you could throw Sharpie or paint pen on there but I recommend peeling the daily page from the stack so it doesn’t bleed through to the next page.

Final Impressions:

I already have a pretty specific planning set-up but I think this Calendar To-Do List pad will make a great addition. I plan on using it for a sketch-a-day, a quote-a-day, or other sorts of daily tracking that could be separate from my work/hustle/work planner.

This is a beautifully designed, field-tested day-on-a-page calendar to-do list that I would be proud to keep on my desk.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Ryan McGinness for the purpose of review.

This review also includes affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

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