By: Patrick Garmoe, Duluth News Tribune 12/15/08 Duluth artist calls calendar tribute to Mom When Gina Befera’s mother first began showing signs of pneumonia three years ago, the pair would spend hours at St. Luke’s hospital waiting for doctors. So Regina got in the habit of toting along a notepad. Gina Befera works in her Duluth home on the final drawing for her 2010 calendar featuring unicorns and fairies. Her 2009 calendar has been one of the top sellers in the fantasy calendar category at calendars.com. When Gina Befera’s mother first began showing signs of pneumonia three years ago, the pair would spend hours at St. Luke’s hospital waiting for doctors. So Regina got in the habit of toting along a notepad.“ I would amuse her with my little drawings of unicorns,” said Befera, who has lived in Duluth since 1990 and runs Idea Works freelance marketing company. But like most great mothers, Claire Befera encouraged her daughter to think bigger. Mom wanted a colorful calendar full of her daughter’s unicorns. Her mother passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Dec. 7, 2006, before the 2008 calendar was complete. But she got to see all but one of the pastel prints from the inaugural calendar. “She just sobbed,” Befera recalls. The memory itself spurs tears. The calendars showcase unicorns, fairies and mermaids in front of all sorts of grand backdrops, from cities and forests to tropical beaches and oceans. While that first calendar got out late and didn’t sell many copies, Befera got an education in the calendar business through it, and has since published a 2009 16-month calendar that has been among the top sellers in the fantasy category on Calendars.com for the second half of this year. After going on sale in July, Calendars.com and the Calendar Club kiosk in Miller Hill mall have sold nearly half the 400 “Unicorns and Other Magic” calendars they have purchased. Normally by this point, the kiosk has sold about 30 percent of each kind of calendar, she said. Right now, she’s working as her own wholesaler, paying to have her calendars printed by Superior Print in Duluth. Now that her calendar sales are steadily rising, however, companies such as Borders that originally turned her down are far more open to carrying them, she said. Lesley Paff, who sells Befera’s calendars from Fallston, Md., on www.unicorns.com, said she probably sold about 25 of Befera’s 2008 calendar, and is likely to sell a similar number this year. “It’s great,” Paff said of the business relationship and calendars. “She’s wonderful to work with.” Her calendars also are “clean,” unlike some in the fantasy category that include naked beings from the waist up, Paff said. “My kids love the unicorns,” said Roxanne Moline of Duluth, a friend of Befera’s who bought the calendars for her girls. While Befera has studied horses, she freehand sketches the drawings with a refillable pencil, constantly erasing and adjusting lines before adding the color with pastels. She typically gets through the full “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy three or four times while working away on each picture, she said. “I just listen to Gandolf,” she said, and the fantasy drawing flows. She already has worn out two copies of the trilogy. She said it helps fill the silence left by no longer being able to work while talking with her mom.In addition to the mall where the calendar is for sale for $12.99, her 2009 calendar is on sale at Peasant Works in Canal Park and other stores in town, and her next calendar is set to hit store shelves July 1, 2009.” - Patrick Garmoe

Duluth News Tribune