Once in a while, a project comes along unlike any other. Gustaf’s Field Notes is one such example. It is an imagined field journal of Gustaf Starck, one of the founders of the Desert Botanical Garden and the man who helped give the Garden its start with his own collection of unusual varieties of cactus. Without his lifelong obsession with cacti, there’d likely be no Desert Botanical Garden, and we’d not have the pleasure of working on this wonderful project.

By the time the idea reached the design desk of Margaret Dixon and team here at ps:studios, Garden staff and volunteers had already researched and authored much of the journal. From there, Margaret worked closely with artist Katherine Callingham to place a mix of colorful botanical illustrations and graphite sketches, both in varying degrees of completion, throughout. A handwritten font was found to give it a more authentic feel. Vintage photographs of the Garden were added and, by experimenting with tints and gradation on white paper, the journal’s aged look was achieved.

Gustaf Starck’s dream was to build a garden that showcased and protected the beauty of the Sonoran Desert for future generations. The Desert Botanical Garden has championed that dream for over 70 years now, but there is still plenty of work to be done. By weaving together the past and present challenges our cacti face due to poaching and habitat loss, this journal demonstrates the need for our steadfast commitment to Gustaf’s vision of protecting our desert.