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A Calendar of Tales


Here you lie in the long grass, watching as clouds form shapes above you. Drifting across the dreamscape sky, the seasons change, the stories grow.

When BlackBerry® said yes to author Neil Gaiman's idea of "using online communities to try and make something cool and special that brought a lot of people together" so began A Calendar of Tales. This ambitious, collaborative storytelling project between the author and his millions of fans worldwide saw crowd generated content produced through a unique, participatory journey across social media, pen and paintbrush.

We were brought in by agency AMV BBDO to design and create the end destination for A Calendar of Tales; an ambient online narrative world, built from and for stories. A world which embraces curiosity, engages the emotions and stimulates the imagination.

Conjuring windows to the world of imagination

In designing A Calendar of Tales, we wanted to create evocative artwork that would capture the experience of a year in passing; the fleeting days, the changing seasons, the distinct quality of the different months.

To this end we set off to weave a rich tapestry of atmosphere and ambience, threading seasonal colour palettes, visual triggers and subtle animation together in an immersive design.

Creating fragments of reality

Canvas flocking animations are scattered throughout the site bringing the experience to life through a series of immersive highlights.

Building a place from and for stories

To inspire the creation of 12 short stories, Neil tweeted thought provoking questions to his Twitter followers.

The response was huge and rich with imagination.

Neil then picked his favourite Twitter responses as narrative starting points, weaving them into the 12 Calendar Tales which he penned especially for the project. You can read the stories on the website, or listen to the audio versions which are narrated by Neil himself.

The original site designs also included subtle sound effects to add depth to this ambient experience.

Listen to the stories

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Fans were then invited to submit original artwork to sit alongside the Calendar Tales in a unique digital world.

Extensive wire framing and UI iterations up front helped us ensure that the experience-based design is responsive across mobile, tablet and desktop, as well as fully engaged with the intuitive gestural features of touch and swipe devices.

A Calendar of Tales is designed to allow visitors to absorb the full ambient experience, or sample individual months, stories, and artwork at will; to read the tales or listen to them told, whilst supplementing their imaginations with rich imagery.

The overall effect is a collection that works individually or as a whole, a picture book of short stories occupying an ambient digital world.

We also created a set of e-books to compliment the site, which have been enjoyed by fans around the world.