The Story of our November 2023 Calendar Image

The Story of our November 2023 Calendar Image


This month’s image was made my Your’s Truly, Crispina ffrench.  My sister Sofia, and I run The Dolphin Studio and carry on the creative legacy left for us by our parents.  

The 2023 November image depicts a pair of big cushy headphones with a curly cord and mic with subtle music notes dancing across the image.  I designed this month’s image to honor my son Ben, an awesome funky, jazzy guitarist who graduated Berklee College of Music in 2017 with a degree in production and performance.  This year Thanksgiving fell on his birthday, November 23rd.


You might not know that my sweet boy, Ben, died on July 30, 2019 at the age of 26 from a life-long heart condition called cardiomyopathy.  When he was diagnosed at the age of two and a half, the doctors thought he would survive 18 months - to be 4.  Miracles unfolded and we were blessed to have him around 22 beautiful years longer than expected. 

Ben and Crispina in his car



Ben and I were super tight.  I became a 27 year old single mom a week after he turned 1.  He showed me a way out of the dangerous relationship his dad and I shared.  He had Failure to Thrive from the time he was 6 months old so when he was diagnosed at 2 and a half, weighing 16 pounds, it was a huge relief and the most intense panicked fuck-the-world moment in my life.  

Maybe this is not the most opportune platform to be sharing such a heartbreaking and, for me, personal story…. but maybe it is.  Rather than disregarding grief, it is important for me, and our whole family (especially Ben’s little sisters) to see it and keep Ben in our midst.  So every year you will see an image included in The Dolphin Studio Calendar for him, to celebrate his gifts and feed the magic we continue to share.


There were 33 of us at Thanksgiving dinner this year.  (That is another legacy left to us by our parents.) 

Sofia hosts the event each year at our childhood home on Main Street in Stockbridge, MA.  This year, Ben's little sister, Lucy made gorgeous and DELICIOUS  birthday cupcakes.  As the turkey roasted, the lot of us descended into the cemetery behind the house where John, Primm, and Ben are holding down the ffrench family burial site.  Birthday cake, tequila shots, a very tasty joint, and stories were shared as we toasted Ben and celebrated his short yet well-lived life.


The November 2023 image started out as a pencil sketch on a scrap of paper, from there I created a detailed and properly formatted pencil drawing on white calendar-sized paper.  The lovely dark blue paper we used was harvested from a paper mill before they sent an entire pallet of it  to the incinerator.  (more on that in another post)

Next it’s color-separations - this is where it is decided what parts of the image will be what color.  Our calendar images are usually created with two colors.  Each color requires a separate screen so we ‘separate the colors’ into an order of printing that gives us our desired results.  

In this image the ‘first’ color is either light yellow or lavender depending on which one you got. (We made two different colored Novembers).  The second ‘color’ is a clear gloss medium used here for the music notes.  The gloss adds a little sparkle, and in just the right light, creates what looks like a darker blue on the rich navy paper.  It was fun to experiment with a new process and nail the ethereal vibe visually depicting music and nodding to Ben .

You can learn more about Ben, his music and contribute to the scholarship we set up in his name here. 


We love to hear from you.  Share your questions, thoughts, and feedback in the comments below.

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