Although a project always tied to the start of a new year, who will be the star of his calendar is a thought which consumes photographer Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek all the time. “I carry my thoughts for the next calendar around throughout the year and annoy my friends with it from time to time,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Then, around November, I usually get a flash of inspiration which feels so right that I can’t help but make it happen.” Over the years, that ingenious feeling of Daniel’s has led to flying cats and cheeky llamas popping out of nowhere, and the most elegant of all pups: Afghan hounds. But for the year of possibility ahead, the photographer has this time chosen guinea pigs.
Inspired by both the brilliant little creatures that guinea pigs are, of course, Daniel’s flash of inspiration for 2021 also came from admiring Janina Zais’ hairstyles, and the set designs of Marcus Vinicius de Querioz “which I couldn’t get out of my head – and I could see everything coming together in a magical way.” The result is a calendar that no matter the month it focuses on a guinea pig is glitzed-up with smile evoking joy.
A nostalgic pet many had as a child, Daniel elevates the squeaky temperament of the animal into a superstar sitting in the bowl of a martini glass, laid across a tiny sofa, grouped together with pals, adopting new personas within a psychedelic mushroom set design, or on the dance floor of what seems to be a guinea-pig-only club.
The surprisingly multi-faceted (and frankly a little odd) personality of a guinea pig also encouraged Daniel to fall even further in love with his muse this year. “Guinea pigs are fascinating animals – they have so many special talents and characteristics,” he explains. “For instance, they have four toes on their front feet, and three toes on their back.” With our interest certainly piqued, the photographer further explains that guinea pigs also eat their own poo, “but not just any poo, as well as poo you will see in their enclosure they also produce special soft poos,” he continues. “They eat those to ensure all the nutrients they need.” They also don’t sweat (pretty handy to be honest), and only sleep in small naps rather than long periods of time. When excited they also “popcorn”, a move that sees them “jump in the air and often do a little twist too.” Any previous guinea pig owner will also know the classic fact that their teeth are constantly growing “which means they need munch on food lots and lots to grind their teeth down,” adds Daniel. “And last, but not least, guinea pigs secrete a white substance out of their eyes that they use to wash themselves.” There’s not really another animal like them is there?
After a year of consistently bad news and seemingly endless difficulties, to see Daniel back with another edition of his calendar certainly fulfilled its aim of placing a smile on our faces. The photographer hopes that spending time with Glynis, Belissa, and the other 13 showstoppers featured in his Pin-Up Guinea series, evokes a sense “calmness and serenity, but also self-confidence,” he tells It’s Nice That. “In addition to a smile, I hope looking at the calendar makes people calm down and let them enjoy 2021 without feeling stressed.”
Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek: Pin-Up Guinea Pigs (Copyright © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek, 2020)
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.